5: The motives for participating
Why are South Korea and the IOC so concerned that North Korea should participate in Pyeongchang? And why is it so important for totalitarian North Korea to take part in these very games?
Pyeongchang has applied three times for the Winter Olympics, and in the beginning it was important to avoid being confused with Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The applicant city therefore entered an “e” and a capital “C” and called itself “PyeongChang”. Cooperation with the North Koreans as part of the Olympic concept was highlighted in the first two applications, but was strongly toned down in the third application after North Korea torpedoed a South Korean ship in 2010. Nevertheless, the thread of reconciliation has been taken up in these the toys.
For South Korea and the IOC, the explanation for this attempt at reconciliation is quite simple. South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that North Korean participation ensures that the conflict between North Korea and the rest of the world community does not destroy the Games and that security is better safeguarded. In addition, this could be the start of improved cooperation between the two countries.
For North Korea, the motivation is different. First, the nuclear power wants positive PR after a long time with negative publicity about its nuclear weapons program. They also want the international sanctions against the regime to be relaxed and hope that the Olympics can contribute to that.
Secondly, they want to split the alliance between the United States and South Korea and thus reduce the room for maneuver of the South Korean president in matters of North Korea. It seems that North Korea has succeeded to a certain extent, because the South Koreans have got the United States to postpone the annual military exercise Foal Eagle / Key Resolve, which usually takes place in February. However, the United States is becoming increasingly aggressive in its rhetoric towards North Korea, and thus the Games are not only a symbol of sports policy reconciliation between North and South Korea, but also a test of the relationship between allies in world politics.
Third, North Korea’s involvement in this case may be due to something as banal as the sporting interest of dictator Kim Jong-un. Kim is very interested in basketball and became interested in skiing when he studied in Switzerland. The interest in basketball has led to a very special collaboration with basketball legend Dennis Rodman, who has visited Kim Jong-un several times and who in the film “Big Bang in Pyongyang” gives us a unique insight into North Korea. In the film, we also see how the interest in skiing in North Korea is.
6: Sport as nation building
Unlike his ancestors, it seems that Kim Jong-un uses sport to a much greater extent as a strategic tool in nation building. The founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, and his son Kim Jong-il regarded sports as a method of improving public health and as a means of preparing for a possible war. The current dictator, on the other hand, uses sport as a symbol to show national pride and strength and to legitimize himself and his own form of government.
When Kim Jong-un took power in 2011, he immediately started investing in sports and has spent huge sums on refurbishing existing stadiums across North Korea. Several times he has personally received athletes who return with good performances from abroad. It will be a good TV.
He has also built the Masikryong ski resort in Mount Taehwa in Kangwong province, close to the South Korean province where the Olympics are held. Initially, the resort was built to show that North Korea has as good a standard as Pyeongchang, and in the negotiated solution for the North Koreans’ participation in Pyeongchang, it was decided that South Korean athletes should come to this resort as part of the charging for the games. It will also be a good TV show.
7: The outcome of North Korean participation
North Korea has historically done relatively well in the Summer Olympics, but is not a major Winter Olympics nation. They have participated in twelve Winter Olympics, the first time in Innsbruck in 1964, but only won two medals. There will hardly be many gold medals during the Games in Pyeongchang, but it is still possible that the North Koreans who participate will be the biggest Winter Olympic heroes in the country throughout history.
The outcome of the reconciliation policy between North and South Korea in connection with the Olympics in Pyeongchang is uncertain. South Korea and the IOC want this to be the start of a lasting reconciliation of the two Korean states. The policy of reconciliation increases the likelihood that the Games will proceed peacefully, but it is highly uncertain whether it will contribute to a peaceful solution to the ever-increasing nuclear conflict between the United States and North Korea, a country located in Asia according to babyinger.
History has shown that sport can contribute to increased optimism and to measures that cannot be implemented outside the sports field, but that big politics often trumps what happens on the sports field. Only time will tell whether the Olympics in Pyeongchang will be a crossroads in this area and whether the Games in South Korea will end with full reconciliation between North and South Korea.