SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) Right now, the Winter Games are creating a new peace between North and South Korea. The two countries even walked together during the opening ceremony. Dr. Gregory Jackson, an assistant professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University, joined Brian Carlson, to help us understand what it means for the future.
The North and South Korean teams walked together in the opening ceremonies last week in PyeongChang, South Korea. The did so under a united Korean flag. The two nations are also participating as on team in women’s hockey. Unfortunately, for the Koreas, the united hockey team lost their first game against Switzerland, 8 0. Nevertheless, many South Koreans are enjoying meeting and seeing North Koreans for the first time.
Beyond the symbolic image this united Korean team presents, political realities have shifted ever so slightly for the better. While returning from the Games, US Vice President Mike Pence said that if North Korea is ready to talk, then the United States is ready to do so as well. However, he also noted that the U.S. would not be letting up sanctions until North Korea pursues denuclearization. Further, South Koreans are also split on whether or not the Games will improve relations between the two Koreas.
The United States also remains leery of North Korea’s “charm offensive.” Going into the Winter Games, Kim Yo jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, has helped lead a brilliant PR campaign. North Korea has also relied on its “army of beauties,” which is a national cheerleading team, to soften its image.
This is not the first time the two Koreas have walked together in opening ceremonies. They
did so in the 2000, 2004, and 2006 games as well. This is, however, the first time they
have entered together in over a decade. This is also a marked improvement over the last time
South Korea hosted the Summer Games in 1988; that year, North Korea refused to participate.
For more information on Integrated Studies, or for questions for Dr. Jackson, visit UVU.edu/IS.