See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

PyeongChang Olympic’s legacy

North Korea’s last-minute decision to participate helped the PyeongChang Olympics become an arena for geopolitics.

Written by

Updated: February 26, 2018

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics came to a close Sunday after 17 days of memorable competitions among the world’s top athletes. As a sporting event, the quadrennial games were successful in many respects.

Most of all, the PyeongChang Olympics — the largest-ever Winter Games that drew 2,920 participants from 92 countries — proceeded without any big hitch, except an outbreak of a stomach virus.

The organizers made sure there was no major mishap in the operation of events for 15 sports that were staged in three major host cities — PyeongChang, Gangneung and Jeongseon in Gangwon Province.

Competition venues and related facilities, like athletes’ villages in the host cities, were well managed. Also praiseworthy is the devotion of 16,000 volunteers and thousands of security staffers.

Indeed, South Koreans may take pride in being model participants in the Olympic movement, having successfully organized both the Summer and Winter Olympics. South Korea, which hosted the 1988 Seoul Olympics, is the eighth country in the world to have organized both Summer and Winter Games.

Team Korea, which consisted of 145 athletes in 15 sports, also put up an impressive performance, further lifting the pride of South Koreans who were united in rallying behind their national athletes. It failed to reach its goal of taking fourth place in the overall medal count, but few South Koreans cared much about the medal ranking.

Some like the women’s curling team and men’s skeleton gold medalist Yun Sung-bin rose to national stardom. Female curlers’ stunning performance especially captured the hearts of many Koreans.

North Korea and geopolitics 

North Korea’s last-minute decision to participate helped the PyeongChang Olympics become an arena for geopolitics as well, raising both hopes and concerns regarding the crisis stemming from the North’s nuclear and missile threats.

The positive side was that the North’s participation — none of its 22 athletes in five sports showed any impressive performance — and the visit of a high-powered government delegation raised hopes for a thaw between the two Koreas.

The North raised the stakes by sending Kim Yo-jong, the sister of its leader Kim Jong-un. The reconciliatory mood, which was backed by the visit of hundreds of North Koreans belonging to an art troupe, cheering squad and taekwondo demonstration team, reached its peak when Kim Yo-jong met Moon and extended her brother’s invitation to visit Pyongyang.

However, the negative side of the latest developments was that the North was seen making a peace overture toward Seoul as part of its ploy to buy time, drive a wedge between the South and the US and cause cracks in international sanctions against its nuclear and missile programs.

There were many signs that the US shares such concerns. US Vice President Mike Pence, who talked more about pressure on the North than dialogue during his visit to PyeongChang, said last week that Kim Yo-jong is a “central pillar of the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet and an evil family clique.”

Trump’s daughter Ivanka also emphasized keeping up “maximum pressure” on the North in a meeting with President Moon at Cheong Wa Dae. On the other hand, the South Korean leader focused on improving relations between the two Koreas and between the North and the US.

The most palpable sign that the US will not be swayed by the recent thaw in inter-Korean relations came through Washington’s announcement of latest sanctions against Pyongyang. Described by Trump as the “heaviest-ever” sanctions on a foreign country, the decision blacklisted 28 vessels, 27 shipping and trade companies and one individual.

One more negative aspect of the North’s peace overture — and the Moon administration’s obsession with improving relations with the North — is that the recent developments are only widening division in the South over how to deal with the North.

A prime example is the strife between the Moon government and the ruling party and opposition parties and conservatives, over the visit of Kim Yong-chol — a North Korean official believed to be behind several past military provocations against the South — for the Olympic closing ceremony.

One cannot but wonder whether the bickering South Koreans are the same South Koreans who cheered their national athletes together during the Olympics. The political legacy of the PyeongChang Olympics is certain to be different from that of a successfully organized sporting event.

(This article originally appeared in the Korea Herald)

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

ANN Members
About the Author: Asia News Network is a regional media alliance comprising 24 media entities.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

Brexit deal refusal to have limited impact on Korean economy

Seoul vows to speed up efforts for Korea-Britain bilateral trade deal, bracing for post-Brexit era. The British parliament’s latest rejection of the government’s proposed Brexit deal is likely to have a limited impact on global financial markets as well as the South Korean economy, Seoul’s government said Wednesday. Vowing pre-emptive steps to counter a possible fallout, Korean authorities will work on preparations for a bilateral free trade deal with Britain, as the latter will no longer be subject to the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement upon Brexit. “The vote to reject the Brexit deal was seen to have a limited impact on global financial ma

By The Korea Herald
January 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

Beijing rebukes French, German ambassadors

Beijing says award for Chinese lawyer is politically motivated. Beijing on Wednesday slammed the French and German ambassadors to China after they granted a human rights award to a detained Chinese lawyer, saying their wrongdoing gravely violated China’s internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China has lodged stern representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction, as well as firm opposition, to the ambassadors’ action. The relevant case is purely judicial, which has nothing to do with human rights, the ministry said. The wrongdoings of Germany and France gravely interfered with China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty, the ministry said. China urges the ambassadors of relevant countries to do more to develop bilateral relations and enhance political mutual trust, not the opposite, it added. The lawyer, Yu Wensheng, was detained

By China Daily
January 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

Singapore-Malaysia relations still ‘good’, says Malaysian Foreign Minister

Ties between Malaysia and Singapore are still “good” despite ongoing air and maritime disputes between the two countries. “Our relations with Singapore remain good. There are some issues but we are talking to each other, and that is very important,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Wednesday (Jan 16), “Most importantly, the discussions are going on. I am confident the discussions are moving in the right direction.” He said five senior government officials will meet with their Singaporean counterparts to discuss ongoing issues. Besides Mr Saifuddin, the others are Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and Foreign Ministry secretary-general Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob. Both Singapore and Malaysia are currently locked in two separate disputes – over 

By The Straits Times
January 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

China accuses Canada of double standard

Beijing slams Justin Trudeau’s criticism of drug smuggler’s death sentence. China on Tuesday expressed strong dissatisfaction at the Canadian prime minister’s criticism of a drug smuggler’s death sentence, urging the country to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and stop making irresponsible remarks. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing that drug crimes are recognized worldwide as serious crimes and are extremely harmful to the society. She said all countries severely crack down on the issue and so does China. Remarks made by a “relevant Canadian person” lack the spirit of rule by law, she said, urging the Canadian side to correct the mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian national convicted of smuggling over 222 kilograms of methamphetamines, was sentenced to death on Monday at

By China Daily
January 16, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

South Korean defense paper doesn’t label north an enemy

Ministry also says the north has specialized battalion for assassination of key figures. The Defense Ministry does not directly refer to North Korea as an enemy and takes a less hostile tone toward the communist state in its 23rd white paper published Tuesday. The ministry’s latest biennial white paper — the first to be published since the Moon Jae-in administration came to power in 2017 — addresses security threats, military policies and the regional security environment. Perhaps most notably, the Defense Ministry eliminated the phrase specifically describing North Korea as South Korea’s “enemy,” a move that appears to reflect

By The Korea Herald
January 16, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Opinion

Rohingya issue will not be solved easily

Bangladeshi foreign minister says the road to a solution will be long and paved with difficulty. The much-talked-about Rohingya issue will not be solved easily, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Monday. “I have directed to conduct a study on the Rohingyas which will try to find out the impacts of Rohingyas on our country’s social, economic and security system,” said the minister while talking to the journalists at his office in Dhaka. Urging the international community to step forward for a logical solution to the crisis, he said, “The international community has also responsibilities to solve the crisis. If Rohingya crisis is continued, interest of everybody including India and China will be hampered.” India and Russia are much positive over the Rohingya issue right now, the minister informed. About the resistance from several countries including China over the issue, he s

By Daily Star
January 15, 2019