North Korea and South Korea have agreed to form a joint Olympic women’s hockey team and march together during the opening ceremonies next month in Pyeongchang, according to the Associated Press.
Yesterday, Reuters reported the possibility:
South Korea’s women’s ice hockey team was the first to be singled out for possible integration with North Koreans, with Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan saying the government would ask Olympic organizers to expand the team’s roster from 23 to more than 30.
That came as a shock to team members, who had just returned to South Korea last Friday after training in the United States for the past three weeks, a senior official with the Korea Ice Hockey Association said.
Marissa Brandt, who was adopted from South Korea and brought to America, is on the South Korean women’s hockey team. The 24-year-old told CBS This Morning that she hoped the joint team could help unify the countries.
The Reuters report said that other South Korean athletes were less enthused about the proposed cooperation.
“They were just furious and found the idea absurd,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “We are utterly speechless that the government just picked us out of blue and asked us to play with total strangers at the Olympics.”
That’s not the only problem. Critics say North Korea’s participation with South Korea is just a “an attempt to use improved ties with South Korea to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions on North Korea while buying time to perfect his nuclear weapons program,” the AP wrote. Defections by North Korean athletes are also a concern.
And before the two sides met Monday, the North Korean state run news agency KCNA slammed South Korean President Moon Jae-in for thanking President Trump for his stance against North Korea’s nuclear weapon program, which he said helped push the two sides to talk. Per CNN, KCNA wrote:
“It is unbearable to look at South Korea’s servile attitude of thanking Trump as if the results of inter-Korean talks happened because of their international sanctions and pressures. We will work hard to improve North-South relationship but we will not sit by and tolerate foul actions that pour cold water on our effort.”