With Winter Olympics Starting, North and South Korea Are Playing Nice… for Now

Beginning with the Opening Ceremonies two nights ago, the eyes of the world are on South Korea.

The U.S. ally is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. If you prefer official names, it’s called the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.

And for those who prefer more common names, we can call it PyeongChang 2018. That’s assuming we can pronounce “PyeongChang.” It’s a county in the Gangwon Province of South Korea.

Whatever you call it, the international, multi-sport event will run through February 25. This marks the second time South Korea has hosted the Olympics. The first was the 1988 Summer Games.

Kim Jong-Un Has Been Eerily Silent

Over the past few months, I’ve wondered what North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un might do to take some of the attention away from his enemy to the south during the Olympics.

After all, he has made no secret about his nuclear ambitions. And he has seized many opportunities to threaten South Korea, Japan and the United States.

With his closest nemesis receiving global attention, will he use this platform to make nice? Or will he step up his threats?

So far, he’s been pretty quiet. A little too quiet, you might say. I have to wonder what he might have up his sleeve.

Olympics Brings North Koreans to the South

A North Korean delegation that includes some 230 members of a state-trained cheering group arrived in PyeongChang the other day.

The entourage also includes officials from North Korea’s Olympic committee, journalists, and a taekwondo demonstration team.

Several days ago, a 140-member art troupe arrived in South Korea. They performed in Gangneung on Thursday and will perform today in Seoul.

Twenty-two North Korean athletes will compete in sports such as ice hockey, figure skating, short-track speed skating, cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing.

Buddy-Buddy Approach Unpopular in South

So, there are now close to 500 North Koreans in South Korea. I wonder how many of them would like to stay there when it’s time to go home.

Normally, South Korea allows defectors to remain. But South Korean President Moon Jae-in knows doing that during the Olympics would cause extreme embarrassment to Kim Jong-Un. And he’s not a guy you want to embarrass.

During the ceremonies, the two countries marched under a united flag. And they will field a mutual team in ice hockey. But technically, these two countries are still at war.

And many South Koreans are not pleased with the buddy-buddy approach the South Korean government is taking with North Korea right now. In fact, Moon Jae-in’s approval rating has dropped to a record-low recently.

U.S. Not Pretending All Is Well

But just because North Korea and South Korea might pretend to get along for a couple of weeks, that doesn’t mean North Korea and the U.S. will follow suit.

During President Trump’s recent State of the Union address, he said, “No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.”

He added, “Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”

Vice President Mike Pence planned to take the father of the late Otto Warmbier to the Opening Ceremonies. The young man died recently, shortly after his release from a North Korean prison. His parents said he was tortured there.

When Olympics End… Look Out!

It will be very interesting to see if hostile rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea becomes part of the Olympics story.

But regardless, we know one thing for sure. It’s certain to heat up once the Games come to an end.


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