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View From The Voice: North Korea will skate on thin ice at the 2018 Olympics

~The Voice, Editor-in-Chief

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     North Korea continues to bewilder the world with its most recent declaration. This time, the declaration is not a threat against the United States, or a jab at President Trump; rather the declaration is what is viewed by many military strategists as a possible first step towards peace with its neighboring nation- South Korea. This year, the declaration is that North Korea and South Korea will unite as one nation under a shared flag for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

     According to the New York Times, North Korea’s women’s hockey team will join with South Korea’s women’s hockey team for this year’s Winter Olympics. The unification, brought on by North Korea, has shocked the world, as in recent years Kim Jong Un’s regime has made the opposite of progress towards diplomatic resolve- with multiple threats to the United States regarding ballistic missiles, and the threat of invading its neighboring nation, South Korea, looming over everyone in the southern nation.

     ESPN, which reported on various details of the unification of North and South Korea for the Winter Olympics, explained that political tension between the neighboring nations has long created utter uncertainty and fear among the two antithetical nations. It was reported by ESPN, that Hwangbo Young, a former North Korean women’s hockey player, who left North Korea when she realized that her life was in constant danger, migrated safely to South Korea to pursue a better life. She found hockey again, and quickly made her way to the South Korean women’s Olympic hockey team. There, she excelled as she had in North Korea, and she felt a sense of security that she couldn’t feel while in North Korea.

     When the North Korean women’s hockey team, Young’s former teammates, played the South Korean women’s hockey team after Young officially migrated to South Korea, it was reported that her former teammates pummeled her with unrelenting disdain every chance they were presented with. At the end of the game, her former teammates refused to make eye contact with Young, and her hand remain extended during the handshakes, but it never shook an opposing player’s.

     This contemptuous rivalry that remains at the center of the North and South Korean women’s hockey teams is now sparking worldwide debates and concerns over the unification of the two nations. While the two teams will stand united under one flag, the politics behind the immense distrust between the two nations may very well only be highlighted during the Olympics.

     However, while the contempt between the two countries may outshine the unification, the opposite may also happen. The New York Times reported that South Korean President Moon Jae-in has wanted to reach diplomatic negotiations, or a basic understanding, with North Korea for quite some time. This act of unification by North Korea will be the first time that the two nations reached any form of peace in well over a decade.

     ESPN also reported that the Olympic Games have always been a time where political uncertainties between participating countries dissipate, if only for a short time. This year, the Winter Olympics mean much more than they normally do to many, as North and South Korea may begin to reach a political understanding that begins with their representation at the Olympic Games. Nations such as the United States and Russia have displayed the power that the Olympics has to produce basic diplomatic peace when both countries continuously put their shaky diplomatic relationships on hold for the Olympic games. This could very well play out similarly for North and South Korea, as this winter’s Olympic Games may very well be the baby steps that both countries need to eventually reach diplomatic peace.

     With this unification, there is also heavy concern and anger that has already begun to arise from the decision of North and South Korea. Pertaining to the unification, only the women’s hockey teams for both countries will unite. All the other sports teams, as well as the men’s hockey teams will remain separated. For many South Korean and North Korean hockey players, their chance to shine in the Olympic spotlight may be taken from them, as players from the opposing teams may take their position if proven more skilled. Another fault that players from North and South Korea have with the unification of the women’s hockey teams is that the men’s hockey teams will remain as they are for the Olympics, which brings sexism into the debate.

     In an era where equality has slowly begun to outshine prejudice, this act of unification may only serve as an irritant to those who view the act of only joining the North and South Korean women’s hockey teams as sexist, and we at The Voice agree. According to Slate Magazine, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has repeatedly used sexist language to intimidate and denounce the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Jae-in, however, has wanted to seek peace with North Korea for quite some time, and the 2018 Winter Olympics, despite the sexist undertones, may provide her with some form of diplomatic understanding.

     This year, it will be difficult to predict what will happen between North and South Korea at the Winter Olympics. Despite the unification of the two nations, the circumstances behind that unification may only exacerbate the tensions between the two opposite nations. North Korea, despite competing under the same flag as South Korea, will continue to remain a terrifying, menacing, and totalitarian world compared to its culturally free neighbor- South Korea. It has been done before, a formation of peace under the world’s greatest competition, but with a country as stubborn and brutal as North Korea, it is near impossible to speculate the outcome of this unification.

~ The Voice

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View From The Voice: North Korea will skate on thin ice at the 2018 Olympics