North Korea’s delegation at the 2018 winter Olympics
Considering the escalating nuclear tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world, Kim Jong-un’s decision to send a delegation of athletes, cheerleaders and dignitaries to the Pyongyang winter Olympics came as a huge surprise to the rest of the world.
The massive delegation of 400 people, which consisted of only 22 athletes, a 229-member all-female cheerleading squad and a 140-member orchestra, returned to Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, after a three day visit to the South. Most of the members of the delegation kept to themselves for the length of the stay, with only a couple of athletes responding to media questions, however, the cheerleading squad stole the show with their extremely well-coordinated, energetic performances, and became a highlight of the entire Olympic games.
Kim Yo-jong, sister and trusted aide of Kim Jong-un, also accompanied the delegation and succeeded in promoting a softer side of the country with her good will gestures. Dubbed North Korea’s “Ivanka”, her rare visit was also nothing short of a surprise and was very well received by the South Koreans.
However, US Vice President Mike Pence, who led the US delegation at the event, did not respond well to the North Korean delegation and warned that the North was making an effort to “hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games”. Pence met with North Korean defectors, and brought the father of Otto Warmbier, an America university student who died as a result of injuries sustained during detention in North Korea, along with him. The contrasting stances of the US and South Korea regarding the treatment of North Korea was clearly visible during the games; with the US openly showing their rigid stance, and South Korea displaying a more warm and welcoming approach.
The visit, a historical one to say the least, has left behind many questions and has garnered mixed responses and emotions. Some media sources are hailing Kim Jong-un’s decision and are predicting a favorable turn of events for the Korean Peninsula, while others are highlighting the atrocities being committed against the North Korean people by the Kim family. Despite all this, one thing is for sure; the resulting peace and easing of tensions are a welcome change from the hostility that normally surrounds the North and the South.