Inter-Korean sports exchanges expected to achieve unity across the divided Korean Peninsula

5 years ago
From the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to the recent Asian Games in Indonesia, sports diplomacy has played a key part in laying the groundwork for the rapid diplomatic thaw between the South and North.
Our Won Jung-hwan looks into the recent sporting exchanges that have paved the way toward a more peaceful Korean Peninsula.

Some say it all started from Pyeongchang, the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
During the PyeongChang Olympics, the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony under the Korean Unification Flag, a white flag with the blue shape of the Korean Peninsula in the center,… and they even field a joint women's ice hockey team for the first time in a major sporting event, competing against global rivals.
Through this first step,… the two Koreas have learned to use sports diplomacy to help move toward a much bigger goal of rebuilding connections across the divided Korean Peninsula.

According to an expert, cooperation through sport is relatively easy compared to cooperation in other areas.

"North Korea seems to have a very positive view on sports exchanges,… and considering that there are a lot of differences in level in some of the sectors where the two Koreas could interact,... there is some balance in terms of sports,... so I think that is why sports exchanges are easier."

After the Panmunjom summit between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, South and North Korea have tried to maintain the momentum of sporting exchanges. They fielded a unified team at the Korea Open table tennis tournament in Daejeon, and resumed their Unification Basketball Games in Pyongyang as well.
And the latest platform for the joint teams came at the Asian Games in Indonesia last month.

During the opening ceremony, a loud, emotional roar was heard when the unified Korean delegation marched in as one, delivering a message of peace, just as they did in Pyeongchang back in February.
They also competed as a joint team in three sports: canoeing, rowing and women's basketball, and won four medals, including a gold by the women's dragon boat racing team in 500 meter race.

The Pyeongchang Olympics may have got the ball rolling for South and North Korea,... but the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang offered them a chance to forge an even closer relationship.
There may well be more regular inter-Korean sporting exchanges to come in the near future after the success of the previous ones,… and the athletes who participated in those previous joint team events would love the chance to compete with their North Korean teammates once again.

"I just want to thank everyone for being part of the miraculous 20-day journey back in Indonesia. I am not sure when we will be able to meet again, but I am sure we will,... so let's do our best in each place until the time comes."

"If someone meets, there is a goodbye, and if there is a goodbye, then they will meet once again,... I believe we will meet again sometime."

"Let's meet agai