The Divide in Korea
The division of the Republic of Korea occurred in 1945 after the Second World War, and the tension erupted in 1950 igniting the Korean War. Even though the war ended, the division remained to date. The South and North Korea continued with their military standoff plus periodic clashes. The American military set up a base in South Korea to help discourage attacks from the North; although the recent talks between the two nations are bearing fruits.
The peace talks which started on January 9, 2018, is proving fruitful with Moon Jae and Kim Jong-un agreeing on creating the first joint Korean Olympic team. South and North Korea will march under the one flag at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics and even compete together. The two nations agreed to the unity display on January 10, 2018, during the talks at the Panmunjom. The South Korean unification ministry reported that they would also form a joint women’s ice hockey team which is the first time the two nations have contributed athletes to a joint team in the Olympics.
The Korean Unification Flag
The Korean unification flag has a blue Korean peninsula silhouette in the middle with a white background. The silhouette also includes Liancourt rocks, Olleungdo, and Jeju Island. The flag symbolizes a united Korea and is used every time the two countries participate in a sporting event as one team.
The unified Korean flag was first used in 1991 when they marched together during the opening ceremony of the table tennis championship. It was also used in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics and the 2003 Athens Summer Olympics, but this is the first time it will be used in an event where they will compete together.
What Are the Critics Saying the Idea of a Unified Hockey Team?
Although the unity plan will help ease the tension between the two Korean countries, the idea is being opposed in South Korea and even internationally. The South Korea hockey team coach has criticized the plan and claims that the addition of North Korean players will affect her players while the local conservative press claim that this will affect their chances of winning any medal in the coming events. The South Korean team is way stronger than their northern counterpart which is triggering an angry response from numerous athletes. The BBC reported that thousands of South Koreans signed an online petition to stop president Moon Jae-in from integrating the women hockey team with the famous petition having over 17,000 signatures.
Other than the athletes, North Korea plans to send hundreds of orchestral musicians and cheerleaders to the ceremony. There is hope that the negotiations will expand to other issues including Kim’s nuclear program and missile technology which has advanced rapidly in the last couple of years.