Tourism, Sports and Peace | Pyeongchang Olympics May Unite Two Koreas
PYEONGCHANG: What has happened on last Saturday in Pyeongchang may be seen in future history books. Ongoing in the Republic of Korea is the largest sports event ever undertaken in the country, it’s also the largest travel and tourism event for South Korea with visitors from every corner of the globe. The Olympics are supposed to be a happy event – and the Korean Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea just was elevated to another level of happiness the world has been waiting for, a possible step for peace and unification between the two Koreas.
Peace, sports, and tourism have many game-changing examples in various parts of the world. Progress was made with cricket in India and Pakistan several times, East and West Germany started a deeper communication on the background of soccer (football) and it is showing in Korea at this very minute with both North and South Korean Olympic athletes entering the games under one combined flag.
Despite US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatening world peace, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang and is ready to meet at the earliest possible time, Seoul’s Blue House said on Saturday.
This is a significant development that may just enter a key opportunity for world peace and unification.
It would be the first such summit since 2007, at which then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met with then-DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, and the third since the Korean War.
The invitation, which was delivered by the DPRK leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, during a visit by a high-level North Korean delegation to the Blue House, the first such visit by DPRK officials in eight years.
It remains unclear whether the South Korean President has accepted the invitation, however, with Blue House saying that Moon had “expressed willingness to clinch it by establishing conditions in the future.”
In addition to the South Korean President, the North Koreans were met on Saturday by Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon, Chief of National Security Council (NSC) Chung Eui-yong, and Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok.
Moon and Kim Yong Nam are set to watch the first match of a joint North-South women’s ice hockey team against Switzerland on Saturday at Kwandong Hockey Center in Gangneung, Gangwon Province.
The meeting represents the most high-level North Korean delegation visit to the Blue House since August 2009, when Kim Ki Nam and the late Kim Yang Gon met then-ROK President Lee Myung-bak during a condolence visit following the death of Kim Dae-jung.
Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae and the late Kim Yang Gon visited the South in October 2014, too, to attend the closing ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon. They did not, however, meet then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
But the presence of Kim Yong Nam, often described as North Korea’s “nominal” head of state, represents the highest level meeting between a DPRK official and a South Korean head of state in over a decade.
Kim Yo Jong, too, is the most high-level member of North Korea’s ruling Kim family to visit the South since the Korean War.
If Moon accepts, the meeting would represent the third such summit in modern Korean history, following Kim Dae-jung’s (left) and Roh Moo-hun’s (right) visits in 2000 and 2007 I Credit: DPRK Today, edited by NK News.
One expert said that while the significance of Friday’s meeting should not be overstated, it did represent a “meaningful and welcome development.”
up expectations for progress, and planning to cash in later when the reputational cost is greatest for President Moon,” he continued. “We do have to understand what North Korea is doing.”
The meeting comes a day after the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics, which saw athletes from the two Koreas march together under the Korean unification flag for the first time in 11 years.
North Korean hockey player Hwang Chung-gum and South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong carried the flag, in a rare symbolic, but controversial display of inter-Korean unity.
In a speech ahead of the ceremony, Moon Jae-in said the games would be a “precious starting point for a step forward toward world peace.”