The Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony was held on Sunday, where all attending could see a brilliant display of fireworks, coordinated light shows with drones and people alike, K-Pop, and the phenomenal performance of young Yang Tae-Hwan to celebrate the achievements. While the main attention was on the medals and athletic displays by representatives of each country, these Olympics have been a landmark for political progress as well.
When it was announced that the 2018 Winter Olympics were to be held in Pyeongchang there was uncertainty as to how this would affect the tensions between North Korea and the United States, and how these tensions would affect the games. With the Winter Olympics now coming to a close, however, we can look back and see the progress made and what can make us optimistic for the future.
Only a month before the games were to begin, Kim JongUn declared he would send a delegation to the games and said: “We sincerely hope the Winter Games in the South will be successful.” This was followed by the decision for both North Korea and South Korea to walk together under a unified flag in the opening ceremony and the formation of a joint women’s hockey team.
Vice president Mike Pence attended the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, which was not received well by Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy, the first U.S. two openly gay Winter Games athletes. The tension stems from the Vice President’s earlier comments on LGBTQIA rights. Despite the tension, both Vice President Pence and bronze medalist Rippon have mentioned the possibility for a meeting between the two.
Similarly, North Korea began extending invitation to meet at the Winter Games as early as Feb. 9. They extended an interest in meeting Pence, which eventually did not pan out. However, North Korean delegates have extended again, after the closing ceremonies, their “ample intentions of holding talks with the United States,” according to Associated Press writer Ted Anthony.
First Daughter Ivanka Trump was spotted sitting closely to South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol during the closing ceremony as a show of unity and mutual respect even without apparent discussion among them.
Even though the majority of the political events have been positive, it is necessary to mention that there are reports of hacking during the closing ceremony, and it has been alleged that these acts were performed by a Russian militia group in an attempt to frame North Korea.
It is uncertain why Russia would attempt such a scheme. This attack occurs after a string of political hackings from Russia that have been levied at the U.S. This hacking also occurred just one week before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) considered reinstating Russia after its previous Olympic doping scandals.