Pyeongchang Olympics are icy trail to warmer Korean relations

SEOUL, South Korea — Tears and hugs after North and South Korean women won a 1991 organisation list tennis universe championships. A station acclaim when athletes from a dual Koreas marched together to open a 2000 Sydney Olympics. A selfie taken by a South Korean gymnast with her North Korean foe that went viral during final year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

Seven months forward of a Pyeongchang Olympics, South Korea’s new magnanimous President Moon Jae-in hopes a initial Winter Games on Korean dirt could furnish some-more of these feel-good sparks of ostensible settlement and pave a approach for low rendezvous to palliate a rivals’ 72-year standoff.

In a good growth for Moon, IOC President Thomas Bach on Monday voiced his support for Moon’s proposition while North Korea recently authorised a taekwondo proof organisation to perform in a South in a Koreas’ initial sports exchanges given Moon’s May 10 inauguration.

But there is also copiousness of doubt about Moon’s efforts since of a critical escalation in North Korean chief and barb arsenals — North Korea on Tuesday test-fired a barb expected means of distinguished Alaska — and a diseased North Korean winter sports module that sent usually dual athletes to a 2010 Vancouver Games and zero to a 2014 Sochi Games. Sydney and Rio were both Summer Olympics.

North Korea’s usually IOC member, Chang Ung, pronounced final week that team-work on a Pyeongchang Games could infer tough deliberation a necessity of time and formidable politics.

What follows is an hearing of South Korea’s try to make North Korea a pivotal partial of a Olympics set for Feb. 9-25.



During a debate during a universe taekwondo championship in a South that drew Chang and North Korean athletes, Moon appealed for North Korea’s Olympic appearance while articulate about a energy of sports and citing a ancestral “pingpong diplomacy” between a United States and China in a 1970s.

“I consider (North Korea’s Olympic attendance) would severely apportion in realizing Olympic values, that are about bringing amiability together and compelling universe peace,” Moon pronounced during a event’s opening rite on Jun 24.

Moon has formerly pronounced he wants North Korean athletes to revisit a South by channel over a heavily fortified land limit between a Koreas — a deeply mystic eventuality that would excite demoniac media coverage. He has also due holding a pre-Olympic celebratory eventuality during a North’s scenic Diamond Mountain, where a dual Koreas once ran a tourism program.

Moon’s sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, told lawmakers recently that South Korea was also study a corner women’s ice hockey organisation with North Korea for a Pyeongchang Games. Other ideas: regulating a recently built North Korean ski review as a training site and adding North Korea to a Olympic flame send route.

During their assembly during Moon’s presidential house in Seoul on Monday, Bach pronounced he actively supports Moon’s pull for Korean assent and pronounced it’s in suitability with a Olympic spirit, according to Moon’s office. But some of a measures floated by a Moon supervision need grave IOC approvals, and Pyeongchang organizers contend zero has been strictly dynamic yet.

Chang suggested it might be too late to try to margin a singular Olympic team, observant it took 5 to 6 months or 22 rounds of inter-Korean talks before fielding a singular women’s list tennis organisation in 1991. He also questioned how many sports could impact family between a Koreas.

“Did list tennis urge family between a United States and China? Pingpong was means to work as a matter since a domestic substructure had already been created. The universe was observant pingpong done things work, though that wasn’t a case,” Chang told South Korean reporters final week. “Politics are always above sports.”



North Korea is not clever in winter sports.

The usually North Korean athletes who are suspicion to have a picturesque shot during creation a 2018 Olympics are a North Korean pairs figure skating team. Even if they qualify, it will meant reduction than 10 North Koreans — dual athletes and coaches and officials — would come to Pyeongchang.

This tiny patrol — or no athletes during all — could make it formidable to emanate a mood of reconciliation. Still, South Korean officials are looking during other ways to get North Korea involved.

Pyeongchang’s organizing cabinet pronounced it’s deliberating with South Korean supervision officials either to ask a IOC and other general sports bodies to give North Korea special entries if no North Korean athletes validate for a Olympics.

South Korea is also reviewing either to reason out-of-competition matches during a Olympics that would concede North Korean athletes to compete, according to Moon’s Unification Ministry.

The South’s organizing cabinet pronounced special entries and additional games have not been authorised during past Winter Games.



Relations between a Koreas are gloomy as a North pursues a chief ambitions.

Since holding energy in late 2011, North Korean personality Kim Jong Un has conducted 3 atomic exam explosions and systematic a raft of ballistic-missile launches as partial of his settled idea of building chief missiles means of reaching a continental United States. Moon’s regressive predecessors responded by suspending vital assist shipments and cross-border team-work projects.

Moon has affianced to urge ties and betrothed to use a Pyeongchang Games to palliate cross-border animosities. But any large North Korean arms exam tighten to a Pyeongchang Games could trigger clever anti-North sentiments both during home and abroad and make it tough for Moon to press forward with his overtures.

“What’s many critical is that North Korea not act in a approach that earns President Moon critique when he creates a gesticulate of reconciliation,” pronounced Jung Moon-hyun, a sports scholarship highbrow during Chungnam National University in South Korea.



At a tallness of a Cold War, sports were another terrain between a Koreas. North Korea boycotted a 1986 Asian Games and a 1988 Olympics, both hold in Seoul.

But sports exchanges quickly flourished in a early 1990s before a chief predicament erupted. This team-work enclosed a North-South women’s list tennis organisation championship over China in 1991, and a one universe girl boys’ soccer organisation that reached a quarterfinals after that year.

These were a final one Korean sports teams, though a rivals found other ways to cooperate.

After a leaders of North and South Korea met for landmark limit talks in Pyongyang in Jun 2000, athletes from a Koreas walked behind a blue-and-white “unification” dwindle for a initial time during a opening rite of a Sydney Summer Games. This happened during other vital general sports events, though a use stopped after a 2007 Asian Winter Games in Chuangchun, China.

Despite terrible domestic ties amid a chief standoff, cross-border sports exchanges between a Koreas did not disappear entirely.

North Korea attended a 2014 Asian Games hold in Incheon, South Korea. At a tighten of a games, 3 tip Pyongyang officials done a warn revisit and hold a Koreas’ highest-level face-to-face talks in 5 years.

This spring, North Korea’s women’s ice hockey organisation came to a South to take partial in a organisation rounds of a universe championships, while a South’s inhabitant women’s soccer organisation trafficked to a North for an Asian Cup subordinate match.

One of a feel-good highlights of a Rio Games final year came when a 17-year-old South Korean gymnast named Lee Eun-ju took a selfie with North Korea’s Hong Un Jong as they lerned for competition. The print prisoner tellurian headlines, and Bach described it as a “great gesture.”

It’s distant from certain either Pyeongchang will have any identical gestures.


Associated Press author Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

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