PyeongChang, South Korea will be holding the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. South and North Korea have been separated and in conflict for more than 70 years.
The location of the Winter Olympic games was moved to South Korea after news of Russian athletes doping during the 2014 Winter games broke. Not only were 19 Russian Olympians banned due to the scandal, but 11 of their medals were taken from the Sochi Olympics.
North Korea has been a part of the Summer Olympics since 1972 except for the games that were held in Los Angeles in 1984, and the 1988 games in Seoul, according to the New York Times. South Korea believes that North Korea attempted a terrorist attack by placing a bomb in a Korean Air passenger plane before the games in Seoul. The bomb killed everyone on board the plane. Tension between the two countries has remained high ever since.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un, has been threatening to launch a nuclear missile on U.S. and South Korean lands for a while. North Korea has tested a total of six missiles so far and threatens to launch another over the Pacific Ocean which could harm ships and aircrafts, according to Newsweek.
Many countries have been taking precautions against such threats. According to the U.S. intelligence community, North Korea is thought to have about 25 to 60 nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-Un himself said that his “country was capable of presenting a substantial nuclear threat to the United States.”
Because of this, there was concern that North Korea would try to compromise the safety of those attending the Olympics.
South Korea was quick to talk over the matter with North Korea to form an agreement. Talks of peace made at Panmunjom, the border between North and South Korea. South Korea’s Minister of Unification Cho Moung Gyon met with North Korean delegate Ri Son-kwon about sending North Korean parties and athletes to the Winter Olympics.
North Korea readily agreed to send their own athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea as well as a cheering squad and a performance-art troupe, according to the New York Times. They will also send about 230 people to cheer their athletes.
“Who would have thought with these nuclear tensions, the sports diplomacy and music would bring countries together?” said ORU Assistant Professor of International Relations Ruby Libertus. “I think it’s an amazing testament because we always advocate for this type of connecting with music, sports and the Olympic games is one of those times that brings countries together.”
North and South Korea have agreed to march together under the same flag at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, according to CNN.
“Yes, it is competitive,” said Libertus. “But people really watch it, especially the opening ceremony of the countries coming down. So yes there are controversies, like the World Cup scandal and, of course, the doping that occurred. But I think the Olympics bring the world together.“