Winter Olympics Between Two Koreas

Recently, South Korea and North Korea entered the formal dialogue after two years. During the dialogue, it was confirmed that North Korea will send its fleet of athletes, high-ranking officials, and cheering squad to Winter Olympics held next month in Pyeongchang. The dialogue was held with an aim to discuss participation, issues arising at Korean Peninsula, and nuclear program of North Korea.

South Korea confirmed the participation of North Korea and suggested that athletes of two nations will march together at the opening ceremony. However, this gesture would help in strengthening the bond between them and reducing hostilities piled up from past few years. The question remains whether it would continue for the long time.

Experts fear that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would stop cooperation after the games are over. They also expressed that South Korean officials should capitalize on this opportunity to push denuclearization talks forward. The decision to send delegation to Winter Olympics could be marked as the beginning of the official dialogue for peace between countries and become a path to open dialogue channels focusing on security issues.

Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council of Foreign Relations said, “The question is really whether or not it is possible to build momentum through the process of North Korea participation in the Olympics that could lead to sustained tension reduction.”

Many experts believe that North Korea’s participation in Pyeongchang is a temporary truce as no strong decision has been taken over nuclear issues. Kim is determined to make his country identify as nuclear state. On the other hand, the U.S. declined uphold that demand.

Historically, the sports diplomacy offers short-lived truce between two countries. It would improve relations between Seoul and Pyongyang, but obtaining prolonged peace is a long way as multiple parties are involved.