North Korea during a Winter Olympics

With a arriving Winter Olympics holding place in PyeongChang and tensions sharpening on a Korean Peninsula, many are wondering possibly North Korea’s actions will impact a Games. Here’s what fans should know about a story of North Korea during a Winter Olympics and their athletes’ prospects for 2018. 

An critical note: a horde city of PyeongChang is located in a northeast segment of South Korea and should not be confused with a likewise spelled Pyongyang, that is a collateral of North Korea. 


Countdown to PyeongChang: 6 months to go


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North Korea’s appearance in a Olympics dates behind to a 1950s. The Korean War effectively finished in 1953, when a United Nations and North Korea sealed a Korean Armistice Agreement. Although there was never an official assent covenant between North and South Korea, definition a dual countries are still technically during war, a truce determined a ceasefire. It also led to a origination of a demilitarized section (DMZ), located on a limit of North and South Korea and about 40 miles divided from PyeongChang. 

During a same year, North Korea, strictly famous as a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, shaped a possess Olympic committee. Until this point, a International Olympic Committee (IOC) had famous a singular Korean Olympic entity, though after requesting in 1956, a North Korean Olympic physique assimilated a IOC in 1957. 

North Korea was initial represented as an eccentric republic in a 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. North Korea had dual cross-country skiers any contest in a men’s 30km and women’s 10km competitions. However, nothing of a athletes burst a tip 30. 

But on a ice, North Korea hold a speed skating universe by surprise. Standing during 5’6, Han Pil-Hwa was a relations different in a women’s margin in 1964. 

The Soviets were approaching to browbeat a 3000m fortify like they had during a prior Games. Lydia Skobilkova and Valentina Stenina, who won bullion and silver, respectively, in 1960, both returned to urge their medals. 

Skobilkova was a complicated favorite to win repeat gold. She had already claimed 3 golds in Innsbruck, unconditional a 500m, 1000m and 1500m events. Only a 3000m was left. One some-more bullion award would make her a initial Winter Olympian to win 4 particular bullion medals at any Winter Games.

Han and Skobilkova were a final span to skate. Han repelled many by not usually skating good with Skobilkova, though gripping gait with her via a initial 6 laps. By a end, a fortifying champion had gained a lead over a North Korean, though Han was tighten adequate behind to acquire silver, circumference out Stenina by reduction than a tenth of a second. 

Han was a usually North Korean Olympian to strech a lectern during a Innsbruck Games, and a initial contestant from possibly North or South Korea to win a award during a Winter Olympics. She is also still North Korea’s top finisher in any Winter Games. 

Since Innsbruck, North Korea has struggled to leave their symbol in Winter Games. While they’ve collected 54 sum medals in a Summer Olympics, they’ve won usually one other Winter Olympic medal—a bronze award warranted by brief lane skater Hwang Ok-Sil in a 500m during a 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics—and have participated in 6 out of 13 Winter Games given 1964. No North Korean athletes competent to contest during a 2014 Sochi Olympics.

North Korean Olympic fans
North Korean soccer fans during a 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Credit: USA Today

The Olympics have never been hold in North Korea. South Korea hosted a 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, that North Korea boycotted when a IOC deserted their offer to make a Games a corner hosting between a dual adjacent nations. With domestic tensions rising around a world, North Korea’s pierce was praised by Cuba, Nicaragua and Ethiopia.

The dual countries did impetus together underneath a Korean Unification Flag during 3 Olympics: a 2000 Sydney Summer Games, 2004 Athens Summer Games and 2006 Torino Winter Games. However, athletes from North and South Korea have never competed together in an Olympic sport. 

North Korea's soccer group during a 2008 Beijing Olympics
North Korea’s women’s soccer group during a 2008 Beijing Olympics Credit: USA Today

Six months out from a next Olympics, and it is still misleading possibly or not North Korea will attend in a 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. South Korea’s boss Jae-In Moon has pronounced he hopes a dual can work together for a consequence of a Olympic Games.

Moon has also discussed a probability of a one team, and pronounced South Korea is peaceful to assistance North Korean athletes ready for a arriving competition.

“The position of a IOC is really clear,” he pronounced in June. “We have already invited a DPRK (North Korea) to attend in a Winter Games in 2018. We are ancillary athletes in sequence to support them to validate for a Olympic Games.” 

North Korea has nonetheless to validate for any event. Currently, a North Korean athletes with a best possibility during competing in PyeongChang are a pairs skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik. They could acquire one of 4 remaining share spots during a final figure skating Olympic qualifier, a Nebelhorn Trophy, that will be hold in Germany in late September.

There have also been discussions per a inclusion of North Korea in a Olympic flame relay. The suggested devise would have a flame transport by Pyongyang and other pivotal spots of North Korea, a source told The Korea Herald, before returning to South Korea for a Opening Ceremony.    

“I consider (North Korea’s Olympic attendance) would severely minister in realizing Olympic values, that are about bringing amiability together and compelling universe peace,” pronounced Moon in Jun 2017. 

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