TRUMAN DALY WRITES — The last time the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea appeared at the Olympics was after the end of the Korean War. Fast forward 54 years, the DPRK and the Republic of Korea have put forth a unified women’s ice hockey team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Despite frequent appearances from both nations at the Summer and Winter Olympics, this will be the first time either has been represented by a unified team in any sport. This will also be the first time the DPRK will compete in the Olympic games hosted by South Korea, following its boycott of the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
The landmark agreement came at a time of increased tension on the Korean Peninsula, following recent escalation of the DPRK’s ICBM program. U.S. President Donald Trump increased economic sanctions on the DPRK as a response to the program, and has taken to Twitter to taunt North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, saying, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his.” Despite the verbal conflict between the two countries, the DPRK has upheld its commitment to a single Korean women’s ice hockey team.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
The DPRK and the ROK had an additional joint, pre-Olympic cultural event planned for February 4; however, the DPRK cancelled its appearance due to “insulting” attitudes from South Korean media. Despite this minor setback, the joint team agreement is a major step forward for relations between the two countries. The move is hopefully the first of many leading to an improved relationship, and potentially a unified Korea.