By Linnea Logie
The current diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea has given rise to a range of sports exchanges, most notably the historic fielding of a unified women’s hockey team at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Such instances of inter-Korean amity date back to 1991, when unified teams competed at the 41st World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan. North and South Korean athletes have since marched under the Korea Unification Flag at opening and closing ceremonies in multiple Olympic and Asian Games, played friendly basketball games in both national capitals, and fielded joint teams in several international sporting contests.
In the past, athletes and observers hoped sports diplomacy would lessen the acrimonious state of relations between Pyongyang and Seoul. Instead, thorny political and security challenges have repeatedly disrupted the continuation of regular athletic exchanges. With the Moon Jae-in administration in South Korea adopting an enthusiastic approach to all forms of engagement with North Korea, however, some optimism has returned that bringing together athletes from both sides of the 38th parallel may help advance the cause of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Linnea Logie is an incoming graduate student with the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. She is currently an Intern at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.
Image from the Republic of Korea’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.