The Cold Winter Olympics. A Divided Korea.

It all started at the end of the Second World War. The Japanese empire found itself completely destroyed after American troops entered the war and dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After this, Europe started to somewhat recover from the war. However, Korea, a nation which was completely dependent on Japan, began to crumble. Vulnerable, Korea fell victim to the effects of the Cold War around the time it was forming. During this time as well, the United States began its containment strategy and intervened in the communist country, causing a complete divide in Korea’s borders. The South was influenced by a democratic Western America and the North by the communist Russia.

In 1950, Kim Il-Sung tried to recollect Korea under a communist regime, but the South had been taken control of by the United States and refused to cooperate. The region that became known as North Korea then invaded the South, an action that resulted in the Korean War, which lasted an approximate three years and killed over three million people. To this day Korea remains fractured by a border that runs throughout the 38th parallel.

Although though the Cold War has long since ended, the 2018 Winter Olympics of 2018 are about to commence. From Friday, Feb. 9 to Sunday, Feb. 25, 93 teams will compete in these games being hosted in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. They will be presenting 102 events, four more than the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“While I’m glad there seems to maybe be some steps being taken towards peace between North and South Korea, I’m not sure that a joint team means the North may be willing to unify as some people believe,” junior Kade Marriott said.

In a surprising move, North Korea chose to participate in the South Korean games, with two athletes competing in figure-skating, and a few others waiting to be approved. Though the two countries have been separated for decades, it appears their leaders may want to begin to ease tensions between the regions. “North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the nation’s pride, and we wish the Games will be a success,” Kim Jong-un said in an open dialogue with South Korea. Many people have criticized this as a selfish way for North Korea to keep exuding their major influence in the southeastern part of the world, but others simply view this as a be a good step forward towards more peaceful international relations.

“I see two strong arguments for whether or not North Korea should be allowed to participate. North Korean athletes may have little to no connection with the government, making it unfair to kick them out, but North Korea’s recent actions should be reason enough to not allow them to be represented. However, the Olympics stands for sports, not for political opinions, so it would only be right to allow North Korean athletes to compete,” freshman Daniel Parra Del Riago said.

While some may be worried about North Korea’s continual nuclear threats, in the same open dialogue, the country mentioned that they wouldn’t dare touch their missile program (unless of course threatened, like it had been previously established with Trump and the U.N.). For a few weeks, many hope to forget about national tensions and enjoy the Olympics, where the most elite compete for medals, pride and prosperity, not just for their country, but for the whole world.