Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Not all South Koreans are comfortable about unified hockey crew

Not all South Koreans are comfortable about unified hockey crew

North and South Korean athletes will compete on the same team at the Olympics for the first time, while the International Olympic Committee approved 22 North Koreans to compete overall in PyeongChang.

The South Korean presidential office said that an important stepping stone to a peace Olympics has been laid, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on details of North Korea's Olympic participation on Saturday.

The IOC will grant accreditations to 22 athletes from the DPRK who will compete in three sports and five disciplines, including figure skating, short track speed skating, cross country skiing, Alpine skiing, and in a united women's hockey team.

IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed that the two nations would march together at the opening ceremony on February 9.

The Koreas will have a unified women's hockey team competing under the Korean Unification Flag - an image of the Korean Peninsula in blue against a white background - and their anthem will be the Korean folk song "Arirang".

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However, the decision to field a unified ice hockey team has sparked a sharp backlash in the South, including from younger South Koreans upset that an unchastened North Korea is taking the spotlight. They will be selected by the head coach from South Korea and must include three North Korean players for each game.

Cross-country skiing: two male athletes - Han Chun-Gyong and Pak Il-Chol - will compete in the 15km freestyle, while one female athlete Ri Yong-Gum has a place in the 10km freestyle.

He went on to say: "The Olympic Games show us what the world could look like, if we were all guided by the Olympic spirit of respect and understanding". The Koreas previously marched together at the Opening Ceremonies in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

The reconciliation mood between the Koreas began after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's speech that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics. The two countries have held working-level talks since.

In a survey of 1,200 adults released by Seoul National University in October, 53.8 percent of the respondents said they supported the idea of reunification.

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He said: "It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea".

South Korean officials have insisted they would ensure that the North Korean delegates kept political propaganda out of their activities in the South.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said he did not rule out the possibility that a North Korean delegation could visit Moscow ahead of the Games.

"In our opinion, the direct dialogue that started between Seoul and Pyongyang, as well as the agreements that were reached during it, give grounds to believe that during the Olympic Games, the situation on the peninsula will be relatively stable", Morgulov said.

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