North Korea received approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Saturday to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The rogue regime most famous for missiles, nukes, and pudgy dictators will send 22 athletes to the Games to compete in hockey, skating and alpine skiing.
North and South Korea will also, with the approval of the IOC, march together under a unified flag, something the two countries ripped apart by war have not done in a little over a decade. Furthermore, the two countries will form a unified Korean women’s hockey team with a dozen players from North Korea.
“The Olympic games are always about building bridges. They never erect walls,” IOC President Thomas Bach said after the meeting Saturday. “The Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula and inviting the world to join in a celebration of hope.
After ignoring its southern neighbor, except for the occasional threat, throughout the past year, the North suddenly responded to the South’s overtures. In his New Year’s address, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un expressed a desire to not only engage South Korea in dialogue, but to also send a delegation to the Winter Olympics.
Since then, the North and South have re-opened a couple of dormant border hotlines and met for talks at the border on three separate occasions.
While the South Korean government is enthusiastic and optimistic, others — the South Korean military included — are wary of North Korea’s intentions, given its refusal to discus its nuclear program, clear efforts to separate the South from its American protector, and generally erratic behavior, such as suddenly suspending a trip to South Korea by a cultural delegation without explanation.
There are also many South Koreans who are disgusted by the thought of marching together at the Olympics under a unified flag with a country that has on numerous occasions threatened to obliterate them with fire. Additionally, most South Koreans are strongly opposed to forming a unified Olympic team.
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