Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 48 Number 3, February 17, 2018 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

PyeongChang "Peace Olympics": An Important Step Forward
in the Korean Nation's Striving for Peace and Reunification

The joint Korean delegation entering PyeongChang Olympic Stadium at the opening
ceremony, ending the parade of nations, led by the Korean Unification Flag

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, which will go down in history as the "Peace Olympics", has marked an important step forward in the Korean nation's desire and striving for peace and for reunification of the Korean Peninsula. It has wrong-footed and nonplussed the US as a blow to their hostility to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to keep it isolated with a divided Korean Peninsula.

The Korean people have been striving for reunification and peace in the face of the attempts of the US to bring about regime change in the DPRK, attempts which include sanctions to starve and create widespread hardship for the people, attempts in which Britain is also complicit. The "Peace Olympics" have shown that these attempts, though vindictive and punitive, are a miscalculation, and that sanctions, blackmail and military might have been stymied once again by the people's striving for social and national liberation.

Jong Su Hyon (left) of the DPRK and Park Jong-ah (right) of the ROK carrying the Olympic torch up to the cauldron

The conditions were created for the joint participation of the DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK) at the beginning of the year. In his New Year address, DPRK leader Kim Jong Un said: "As for the Winter Olympic Games to be held soon in south Korea, it will serve as a good occasion for demonstrating our nation's prestige and we earnestly wish the Olympic Games a success. From this point of view we are willing to dispatch our delegation and adopt other necessary measures; with regard to this matter, the authorities of the north and the south may meet together soon. Since we are compatriots of the same blood as south Koreans, it is natural for us to share their pleasure over the auspicious event and help them."

The Moranbong Band and Samjiyon Art Troupe performing in Gangneung, February 8

Inter-Korean talks were then held almost immediately on January 9, which put paid to the US threats to disrupt the Games with fire and fury. Representatives of the DPRK and the ROK took the decision to "proactively cooperate in ensuring that the 23rd Winter Olympics and Paralympics in the south side area will be successfully held, providing an occasion for enhancing the prestige of the [Korean] nation", ultimately resulting in a large DPRK delegation being sent to the games and the two Koreas marching as one in the opening ceremony, among other initiatives.

DPRK pairs skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik practising at the Gangneung Ice Centre

The DPRK delegation which arrived in south Korea on February 7 numbered 280, including the Minister of Physical Culture and Sports and three other members of the DPRK's National Olympic Committee, 229 cheerleaders, 26 members of a taekwondo demonstration team and 21 reporters.

For the first time in 65 years, south and north Korean athletes participated in a unified Olympic team, the women's ice hockey team. The 35-member squad included 15 players from the DPRK.

The DPRK's Moranbong Band and Samjiyon Art Troupe comprised of 140 performers arrived February 6 by ship, under an exemption from the sanctions regime. On February 8, they held a performance at the 998-seat Saimdang Hall of the Gangneung Arts Centre. The south Korean government invited members of families divided by the Korean War and the socially disadvantaged to attend, while 560 seats were reserved for ordinary citizens chosen by lottery. Some 150,000 people are said to have applied online for those seats.

Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK (back left),
and Kim Yo Jong, First Vice Director of the DPRK's Workers' Party Central Committee and head of the DPRK's
delegation to the Olympics (back right)

The delegation of the DPRK was led by Kim Yo Jung, First Vice Director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, and Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK.

Thus the stage was set for the opening ceremony on February 9 taking place in an atmosphere of great excitement with 35,000 people in attendance and with a united north and south Korean delegation participating under the Unification Flag. The joint presence of the athletes and leadership from the ROK and DPRK was the highlight of the opening ceremony, while the performances on stage recounted Korean mythology, history and culture, and focused on the themes of peace and harmony, with brilliance and technological prowess.

President Moon, Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong head to a luncheon meeting
at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, February 10

The hope of the peoples of the world for peace on the Korean Peninsula was officially expressed by the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach. After extending greetings to all those present and calling for good sportsmanship, he significantly highlighted the unifying role of sports and the role the Olympics can play to nurture peace.

A luncheon meeting between ROK President Moon, Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam was held February 10, where the focus was inter-Korean relations. Kim Yo Jong delivered to President Moon a handwritten letter from DPRK leader Kim Jong Un formally inviting him to Pyongyang at the "earliest date possible", to which Moon responded positively, saying, "Let us make it happen by creating the necessary conditions in the future."

(left to right) US Vice-President Mike Pence, DPRK Head of State Kim Yong Nam, Head of DPRK delegation
Kim Yo Jong, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

In contrast, US Vice President Mike Pence, head of his country's Olympic delegation, assiduously avoided contact with members of the DPRK delegation. He left an Olympic dinner hosted by President Moon on February 8 shortly after arriving, where he was to have shared a table with Kim Yong Nam. On February 9, he refused to acknowledge the presence of Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong at the opening ceremonies, though seated practically in front of them. While the entire stadium was seen to give a standing ovation to the joint Korean delegation as it marched through the stadium behind the Unification Flag, Pence pointedly remained seated.

Since the inter-Korean talks took place on January 9, the US has in fact stepped up its aggressive actions towards the DPRK and on January 24 it announced that it would independently impose additional sanctions beyond those imposed by the UN Security Council. The following day, the US Under Secretary of the Treasury flew to south Korea to urge it to maintain thorough-going co-operation in imposing sanctions against the DPRK.

The US then sponsored meetings with south Korean diplomatic and military officials to stress the need for them to lead the north-south dialogue discussing denuclearisation. The US invited high-ranking security and military officials to the US to discuss the issue of intensifying "military co-operation" against the DPRK.

The DPRK cheerleaders at the opening ceremony.

The US has brought the nuclear aircraft carrier Carl Vinson strike groups and nuclear strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula and vicinity. Now it is asserting that, after pausing its military exercises around the Korean Peninsula for the Winter Olympics, it will resume the US-south Korea joint military drills right after the games end, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) points out, adding that it has also staged a flying corps strike drill targeting the DPRK with the Japan Air "Self-Defence Force".

Unified Korean athletes during the opening ceremony

On January 12, seventeen countries, referring to themselves as "Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Partners in Support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 Enforcement", signed on to a US-led naval blockade of the DPRK, allegedly to enforce UN Security Council sanctions. The sanctions target the entirety of the DPRK with measures aimed at strangling it and preventing it from engaging in normal trade with others. The seventeen are Canada, the United States, Australia, Argentina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, south Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore and Britain.

In related news, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that the Royal Navy warship HMS Sutherland, heading to the Pacific with HMS Argyll "to continue the pressure campaign on North Korea", according to the Ministry of Defence, will, in a crude display of sabre-rattling, sail back through the South China Sea. According to Williamson, this is to make "it clear our Navy has a right to do that".

This sabre-rattling of the Anglo-US warmongers is clearly absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Winter Olympics, and shows without doubt who is the threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.

We hail, along with progressive forces in many countries throughout the world, the "Peace Olympics", and fervently hope that it will fulfil its promise, fully opening the path to peace and leading to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The Korean nation is one nation, and these Winter Olympics have demonstrated the power and profundity of the people's desire for their struggles for liberation to be crowned with success.


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