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Beyond the Bubble: Winter Olympics present Korean peace

Korean athletes will make displays of unity amid military and political tensions.  |  Photo Illustration by Thecla Li / THE CHIMES

 

The South Korean government has agreed to integrate North Korean athletes with some of its own teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in hopes of establishing grounds for diplomatic discussion.

A CONFLICTED UNIFICATION

After North Korea reopened a hotline in January to its southern neighbor which had remained inactive for two years, the two countries began discussions concerning their relational improvement, according to CNN. Currently, they have agreed to have a joint women’s ice hockey team, which will march with other Korean teams under a “united Korea” flag during the opening ceremony, according to BBC.

Nonetheless, sophomore business administration major Brandon Lee has doubts about the capability of the Olympic Games to promote unity between the two nations, which remain at war due to the Korean War ending in a truce in 1953, according to Reuters.

“To be honest, I don’t really know. I don’t assume it will [decrease tensions], because there’s so much history,” Brandon Lee said.

Despite North Korea’s signs of cooperation with other nations, the country has traded aggressive rhetoric with the United States, having conducted several missile and thermonuclear tests in the past year. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the Winter Olympics, as will North Korean ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam, according to the LA Times. Nonetheless, North Korea has stated that it has no interest in meeting with American officials during the Winter Olympics, according to Reuters.

“TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND”

Though the political situation amidst the Winter Olympics remains volatile, it has not commanded the attention of the larger Biola community. Sophomore English major Judy Lee, while acknowledging her own lack of information, believes students should inform themselves concerning the tense circumstances surrounding the athletic event.

“I don’t keep up with the news, so I don’t even know what’s going on in my own country,” Judy Lee said. “People, definitely, I guess take the time to understand and know what’s going on.”

Besides becoming informed of the situation, sophomore business administration major Christian Rim believes students should also pray for the countries involved and for their leaders.

“[Pray for] the relationship between the North and South, and the leaders of North Korea,” Rim said. “Also… U.S. and South Korea [have] a really high relationship with each other, so that’d be important to pray about.”

Some South Koreans have objected to the display of unity with North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in saw his approval rating drop from 70 percent to 64 percent after he announced the countries’ athletes would be marching together, according to UPI.

The Winter Olympics will begin Feb. 9.

 

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