Athletes from North and South Korea will march together behind a unification flag during opening ceremonies at the Olympics. This is the first time this has happened at the games by the countries of the divided peninsula.
In a move to further peace, dialogue, and cooperation, athletes will wear the same white uniforms for Friday’s opening ceremony. During the games, however, they will compete as separate countries, with their own uniforms, flags, and anthems.
The Korean Unification Flag
The Korean Unification Flag features a blue silhouette of the peninsula and outlying islands. The two countries have marched under the flag before. First at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships, and at a number of sporting events since.
Not everyone has been supportive of the Olympic cooperation. Public backlash by South Korea’s conservative population has led to protests and an outcry for the safety of the athlete’s as well as South Korea’s participants.
Widespread negative reaction has lit up social media, with many expressing mistrust of North Korea’s motives. Some think that they are using its Olympic participation for propaganda purposes. People are convinced it is to ease international isolation over its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Liberty Korea Party
The leader of opposition Liberty Korea Party, Hong Joon Pyo, said Monday that the Olympics were becoming the “Pyongyang Olympics,” a reference to North Korea’s capital. He claimed that the administration is “attempting to put the destiny of this country and its people into the hands of Kim Jong Un.”
Conservative protesters met a North Korean delegation led by one of the country’s most popular singers, Hyon Song Wol, in Seoul Monday, shouting anti-coalition slogans and burning an image of dictator Kim.
A Military Parade
North Korea has even signaled that it might hold a Military Parade on Eve of the Olympics. If held, a military parade would be the North’s first since Mr. Kim claimed on New Year’s Day that the country had finished building a nuclear force. Some of which may be missiles capable of reaching the mainland United States.
Amidst all this tension, however, a ray of hope and unification is in the hearts of both Koreas as this historic event could bring in more peace talks and unification. Lastly, on even better news, they will also field the first unified Korean team in the Olympics, a women’s ice hockey team.