A United Korea?

Ian Wallace, Columnist

At the Pyeongchang 2018 opening ceremonies, the North Korean and South Korean olympic teams marched into the stadium together under the flag of a united Korea.  But with all the nuclear tensions over the past few years, is Korea really on the path to unification?  Frankly, no.

The decision has received mixed reactions from the South Koreans.  The New York Times interviewed numerous Koreans on the issue.  The opposition believes that the unified team is just a show, and that it doesn’t really change anything diplomatically.  Jin Sol Kang of Seoul stated to the New York Times, “War is still not over on the Korean Peninsula so that we always live in fear that a war may occur.”  

The United Korean Womens Ice Hockey Team

In essence, Kang is right.  The Korean war never officially ended, and until a true resolution is created, North and South Korea will always be at risk of going to war with each other.  However, other South Koreans believe that while the unified team is not a long-term solution, it could at least bring North Korea to the negotiation table.  Chung Nam-ju states, “I know and my grandfather knows that it would be difficult to improve inter-Korean relations to a point that allows us to reunify.  But I hope that our athletes marching together under one flag and unifying our women’s ice hockey teams can help the two Koreas get along better.”  

Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong

While South Korean President Moon Jae-in will negotiate with the sister of Kim Jong-un during the Olympics, it doesn’t seem that much else will change.  The combined Women’s Ice Hockey team lost their first game to Switzerland 8-0, the North Korean Nuclear Program is expected to resume after the Olympics, the South Koreans are simply too divided for a united Korea, and the cost of unification would be immense for the far-wealthier South Koreans.