- North and South Koreans will march under a unified Korean flag at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
- They will also jointly train at a ski resort and form a joint women’s ice hockey team.
- The inclusion of North Korea marks an opportunity for improved optics and public relations but does not necessarily mean the risk of conflict will decrease.
North Korea and South Korea, two countries still technically at war since 1950, will march under a unified flag during the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Koreas will also engage in joint training at a ski resort and form a joint women’s ice hockey team, according to Oliver Hotham of the North Korea-focused news website NK News.
The news comes after the first major talks between North Korea and South Korea in two years, which began earlier this month amid soaring tensions between the US, its ally South Korea, and North Korea. Both the unified Korean flag and the inclusion of North Korean athletes in the games were discussed during those talks.
South Korea’s newly elected president, Moon Jae-in, floated the idea of North Korea participating in the games early in his presidency, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed a willingness to engage in talks about the Olympics during his New Year’s address, during which he also threatened the US with nuclear annihilation.
Despite the invitation, North Korea has few athletes capable of competing in the games.
Pyongyang will also reportedly send a 180-member orchestra to the games, but it’s closely tied to North Korean propaganda that glorifies the country’s missile and nuclear programs and the government.
While the inclusion in the Olympics may seem a bright spot for improved relations, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser reportedly dismissed the talks between the Koreas as “diversions,” and his secretary of state on Wednesday did not rule out a military strike on North Korea.