In a turn of events that is leaving experts on Asian politics confused to say the least, North Korea and South Korea will be fielding a joint Women’s Ice Hockey team in the fast approaching Winter Olympics. The decision to field a single unified Korean Women’s Ice Hockey team was confirmed by the PyeongChang Olympic committee last Saturday, January 20th.
Many believe this is an important first step to peaceful resolution of the incredibly tense political divide which has plagued the region since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The North Korean team members made the journey to the South Korean training facility today. Pictures of their arrival and training can be seen here.
The explicit request for what is for all intents and purposes a step toward unification, has not come from South Korea, nor the US or China acting as mediators, but in fact from North Korea. In what is most certainly a rare announcement, the North Korean press released a statement, calling for unification for “all Koreans at home and abroad”.
The consensus seems to be that Kim Jung Un wanted to be first in conducting overtures of peace, so as to demonstrate to his people that he was not being coerced or pressured into doing so.
This is by no means a conclusion to the tensions, fueled by nuclear threats from all sides, that have become a regular part of Asian politics, but it is most certainly a drastic change from what we have come to expect from North Korea.
Obviously this is a massively important and still developing story on the world stage, and this year’s Olympic events are certain to make their way into the pages of the history books.