South Korea

The Story of the Korean Unified Ice Hockey Team at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

The Story of the Korean Unified Ice Hockey Team at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) are politically separated and have competed internationally under different flags over the years. On rare occasions, however, countries parade or even compete as a unified team under the same flag.

South Korea is not the first country to do this. The once-divided East and West Germany played together from 1952 to 1964. Egypt and Syria participated in the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics as the United Arab Republic.

North Korea parades collectively at opening ceremony for first time 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, but compete separately. In 2004, they did it again athens and 2006 Turinbefore finally making history 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

diplomacy and missions

With months to go before the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, political tensions on the Korean peninsula are so tense that some have questioned whether North Korean athletes will take part in the games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is keen to see North Korean athletes participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics and is supporting them with equipment, accommodation and transportation to qualifying events.

Thankfully, after years of dialogue between the parties involved, North Korean athletes will indeed compete in PyeongChang, and in January 2018, more good news came: South Korea’s women’s national ice hockey team, which has already qualified for the Olympics The ice hockey team will be combined with three players from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to form a South Korean women’s national ice hockey team. It was the first time in Olympic history that the two countries competed as a unified team under the same flag.

“Until the last moment, there was tension. No one knew what was going to happen. When everything went well, we breathed a sigh of relief and we thought: ok, the Olympics can start”.

Olivier Niameymember of the International Olympic Committee

randy griffinCompeting as a member of the Korean team, she recalls meeting her new teammates for the first time: “When we first met, it felt like the first day of school.”

Even before the puck drops, the team faces its fair share of challenges. Although the two languages ​​are similar, dialects and accents vary widely, meaning communication can sometimes be difficult, not to mention that the team is coached by an American. Sarah Murray!

Despite the language barrier, the team was able to come together on the Olympic ice and work as a cohesive unit.

Although South Korea may have finished last at the PyeongChang Women’s Ice Hockey Championships, the presence of the team captivated a global audience, with the Gangneung and Kanto Ice Hockey Centers packed and spectators chanting “” “We are one!” Every time they hit the ice, it proved that sport and the Olympics have the power to bring together people who divide communities, even if only for a brief moment.

Reflecting on the influence of Unified Korea

“The United Nations General Assembly has adopted Olympic peace resolutions in the past, but none in the history of the Organization has been more significant than this one in 2017”.

——Ban Ki-moonformer UN Secretary-General.

“Sporting events have a huge impact on public opinion, and public opinion has a huge impact on politics, so there’s definitely this connection, and something like that can change the hearts and minds of people in South Korea, North Korea, and that will have geopolitical implications as well. “

– Randy Griffina member of the 2018 unified ice hockey team.

“It shows that we’re human and that we can come together through hockey.”

– Danielle M, Member of the 2018 Unified Ice Hockey Team.

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