Reunification takes center stage as Korean athletes make history

An athlete practices during a speed skating training session at the Gangneung Oval Arena during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in Gangneung on February 8, 2018. (Photo:ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

SOUTH KOREA — North Korean athletes are making history at the Olympic games as they compete under one flag with the south.

“We have a peaceful atmosphere at the Olympic games, especially when I see Kim Yo Jong is visiting, smiling, shaking hands with President Moon,” said one Korean man.

“I’m Korean descendant.”

Peter Lee moved to South Korea more than a decade ago.

“This new government is different than the other government. They’re more liberal so I guess in a good way they want peace.”

Like those born here, he lives in the shadow of North Korea and its nuclear missile threat.

The Demilitarized Zone – the border between North and South Korea – may be less than an hour away from the capital city of Seoul, but for most Koreans, the threat from the north just isn’t a  part of daily life.

“I think for Korean people they don’t really have a choice. This is where they live.”

“I know a lot of people outside Korea is worried about the situation, but honestly no one talk about it in everyday conversation,” said Jinyoung Chy.

At the Olympics there have been daily protests against the symbolic unification, but some are optimistic about the future.

“Reunification must happen especially this time. I really hope it will happen.”

“We actually see it as a long-term project,” said Chy. “Not like ‘Oh, we’re going to unify the entire country tomorrow’. It’s not like that. Maybe even a 100 years later.”

But at least for now it is a Korea that is unified in sport.