As the Olympics in Pyeongchang went underway, the motives behind the potential dissolving tension between North and South Korea remains unknown. Despite this, any turn away from hostility between the two nations should be nurtured.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, made an appearance at the opening ceremony along with North Korea’s Head of State Kim Yong Nam. Kim Yo-jong shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in twice during the opening ceremony.
Both acts symbolized a major improvement to the current relations between North and South Korea, as well as North Korea in relation to global interaction. North Korea’s role in the 2018 Winter Olympics suggests the possibility of better communication with the isolated nation.
On Feb. 11, Kim Yo-jong delivered an invitation to Moon Jae-in for the two leaders of North and South Korea to meet, which was the first meeting between the two nations since 2007.
Despite North Korea’s efforts to reduce tensions, Vice President Mike Pence did not shake hands with Kim Yo-jong. Many claim the act of not shaking her hand was a rather purposeful decision on behalf of the USA, as the two sat just feet from each other at the opening ceremony.
While Pence is the Vice President, it seems foolish to not make an effort to better the relationship between the United States and North Korea.
On Feb. 14, Pence later elaborated on his coldness towards Kim Yo-jong, stating that he did not want to send mixed messages regarding the United States’ current thoughts toward North Korea.
Although the US has not outwardly shown signs of bettering relation with North Korea, athletes from both North and South Korea came together united and marched together on Feb. 9 at the opening ceremony, sharing a “unification flag.”
During the ceremony, the image of a dove lit up the sky which International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stated the display delivered “a powerful message of peace.”
Although only time will tell, it seems like a thinly-veiled attempt to make peace with South Korea and better the image of North Korea by Kim Jong-un. Let us all hope though, that North Korea truly is moving towards international amity and away from their isolationist past.
However, North and South Korea’s unity did not stop at the Opening Ceremony. In a first for the Winter Olympics, North and South Korean athletes are playing on a joint women’s hockey team.
Some people are already declaring these Olympic games the “Peace Olympics.” And handshake or no handshake, it is a welcome change from the childish insults President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have been hurling at each other.
Despite the seemingly diminished tensions, it’s still imperative that we do not overestimate the significance of this as North and South Korean athletes have marched together in the games before, most recently in 2006.
Therefore, further relations between North and South Korea will be a testament of time, alone.
A sudden diplomatic breakthrough between North Korea and the United States seems hardly more likely than before, and it is important Kim Jong-un not be allowed to weaken ties between South Korea and the United States.
Kim Jong-un still wants promises that the United States won’t attack or try to overtake his government despite Pence echoing that U.S. policy remains that North Korea must give up its nuclear arsenal and stop attempting to build ballistic missiles.
As recently as Jan. 24, the United States said it would ramp up sanctions against North Korea.
Until now, the Trump administration has been a case study in incompetence in diplomatic affairs, and Washington sorely needs to pursue a smarter policy in regards to Korea. Dialogue is necessary for open-discussion and improvements for future foreign policy.
Here’s hoping, though with little confidence, that the Games beckon a new start.
Error: this article was originally posted under News, changed 2/22/18