North and South Korea Begin Talks Ahead of Winter Olympics

Photo Credit/Belsat TV

Beth Gillespie, Staff Reporter

Over the past month, North and South Korea have been engaged in some of the first talks between the two countries since December 2015. These talks began on January 9th, and have largely concerned the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To many, these talks represent a thaw in the tensions between North and South Korea. However, these talks have not yet prompted any new decisions regarding North Korea’s nuclear program.

These talks come as a surprise to many, as North and South Korea have a long history of animosity. Since their split in 1955, the two countries have remained enemies. Relations between the two countries has been futher harmed by North Korea’s nuclear testing program, which South Korea perceives largely as a threat.

However, many believe that the talks represent a positive direction for relations between the two countries. On January 9th, the two countries agreed to reopen a military hotline between the two countries. This was for the purpose of preventing warfare or the destruction of the Korean peninsula.

Moreover, North and South Korea also agreed to come together at the Winter Olympics. North Korea has agreed to send down hundreds of athletes to South Korea to compete in the games. As a symbolic gesture, the athletes from two countries will be marching together under the same flag.

They also have agreed to create a joint women’s hockey team— one with both North Korean and South Korean athletes on it. Both the North and South Korean governments have promoted this heavily, with the North Korean government calling all Koreans to support cooperation between the two countries. Overall, many hope that these developments will promote further peace between the two countries after the Olympics.

However, not everyone is optimistic. Many South Koreans oppose these talks, believing that South Korean president Moon Jae-In is pandering to North Korea with these talks. In fact, polls have found that less than half of South Koreans support the two countries marching under a unified flag together.

Similarly, there are concerns that a North and South Korean hockey team may perform worse than a hockey team that is only South Korean. There are also concerns from many intelligence agencies that North Korea may be planning a military parade before the games.

However, many still see these talks as victories. For South Korean President Moon Jae-In, these talks are an important opportunity for him to show his skills both politically and diplomatically. And for many people around the world, these talks represent a possible new beginning for two countries who have had a long history of negative relations.