PyeongChang- Peace or Conflict?


Madeline Greene, Sports Editor

We’ve all heard about it: the North Korean “nuclear button”, missile tests, intercontinental ballistic missile parades, and the jeopardization of human rights. Now what do you think when I tell you that a striking number of athletes from all over the world were residing a mere 183 miles from the North Korean capital city, Pyongyang, for the Winter Olympics 2018. The question is: are these athletes sitting ducks or catalysts of peace?
The 2018 Winter Olympics are being held in PyeongChang, South Korea. The political climate has been tense as of late, but recent updates in negotiations shed a new light on the Olympic Games. On New Years Day, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un gave a speech that declared the power of his “nuclear button” against the United States, but proposed peace negotiations with South Korea. The South Korean President, inaugurated this past May, is optimistically open to conversation with North Korea. As a result, on Wednesday January 3rd dialogue on their border hotline was reinstated, alleviating some tensions along the world’s most heavily guarded border, according to the New York Times. The key word there in that sentence is “some tensions”. The United States Vice President Pence is present at the games and has not set up any meetings with North Korea. He stated that,“Together with Japan and our allies, let the world know this: We will continue to intensify our maximum pressure campaign until North Korea takes steps towards complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization”. Also, on the night before the opening ceremony, there was an ostentatious military parade in North Korea sending their athletes forth to the Olympics.
The political and military tensions have caused citizens of the world to be concerned. While the South Korean leadership does not seem too concerned, considering the fact that they spent $78 million to build the stadium for the Olympics, South Korean citizens have expressed more concerns. Seventy percent of South Koreans in their twenties are against reunification with North Korea. Sixty percent of Americans were concerned for the safety of the 244 American athletes in the Olympics. Another fifty-three percent of Americans were concerned that a terrorist attack would happen during the games.
Despite concerns for athlete safety, the games concluded without any despicable actions by North Korea. Events at the opening ceremony opened the door to a future of peace between the two nations. With the sister of the North Korean leader present, a unified Korean team entered the stadium carrying a flag that marks hope, and two female athletes of the mixed-Korean hockey team carried the torch.I was the part of the population concerned with athlete safety during the games, but was eased to know that North Korea had sent athletes to the events. In the end, these Olympic events could either be a wonderful beginning of peace or the precursor to South Korea bowing to great North Korean “negotiations”, based on whether you are a glass half full or half empty person. To speak for myself, I have hope that this reinstatement of dialogue and negotiations between the countries reveal a desire of peace, even if North Korean peace with the United States is not yet being considered.