Pyeongchang (S. Korea), February 09: The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics saw the athletes from two Koreas marching into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag. The two delegations walked out in matching uniforms under one flag, offering a hope of a breakthrough in the tense geo-political drama that has stirred global fears of a nuclear conflict.
According to The Guardian, the flag was jointly carried by South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong and North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum. During the parade of nations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
North Korea’s decision to participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang came in January when the two countries held high-level official talks for the first time in two years. It was considered a symbolic breakthrough amid rising global nuclear tensions.
Along with Kim Yo-jong, US Vice President Mike Pence was present during the opening ceremony, seated just ahead of the North Korean representative. Only earlier this week, United States had announced plans to impose tough sanctions against Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) for staging a military parade featuring an Inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) only days before the opening of Games.
North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games comes after a gap of eight years. The hermit kingdom had skipped the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. This year, they have sent a small delegation of 10 players, along with a unified team with S. Korea for women’s ice hockey.