This brief respite of tensions could be the step these countries need
North and South Korea have agreed to march together under one unified flag during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, in Pyeongchang. The decision came after a day-long diplomatic meeting at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in which the two nations also agreed to have their athletes train together at a resort in North Korea, as well as forming a joint Women’s Ice Hockey team.
The flag features a blue silhouette of the peninsula, over a white background. The two nations first united under it for the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships and it was most recently used during the 2006 Winter Games in Italy. While both countries have agreed to work together, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) must first approve the changes before the Winter Games. The IOC may yet deny their application for a joint Women’s Ice Hockey team, as it might affect the competition.
The IOC has said that it will discuss the “interesting proposals” with representatives from both countries in Switzerland on Saturday:
“We are sure that the two Korean delegations will present their ideas and proposals at the meeting on Saturday in Lausanne. This will then enable the IOC to carefully evaluate the consequences and the potential impact on the Olympic Games and the Olympic competitions.”
While this agreement seems like a step in the right direction, only time will tell if the progress made before the Winter Games will continue after they conclude. South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s comments suggest that the tension between the two neighboring countries will persist:
“Despite these overtures to improve relations with the South, North Korea has yet to show any intention to fulfill its international obligations regarding denuclearization.”
CNN reports that joint US-South Korean military drills have been suspended for the duration of the upcoming Olympic games as a show of good faith, but are expected to resume after the closing ceremony.