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The Unified Korean Team in 2018 Olympics

On February 9, 2018, Pyeongchang, South Korea, opened as hosts of the Winter Olympics, catching the attention of people around the world. As with other events, there are some difficulties for the IOC (International Olympics Committee) preparation. The most controversial issue in the 2018 Olympics is the unified Korean hockey team. The South Korean government announced that the team was created to improve relations with North Korea. The unified Korean team uses the Unification flag rather than their own country’s. It illustrates the Korean peninsula and Jeju island, but other islands are not included due to the political issue.  

However, this Olympics is not the first time for two Korea to participate together; they first competed in the World Table Tennis Championships in 1991. This time, they do not participate as unified team for every event, only women ice hockey. Many people have different feelings about this news. Some people think that it’s weird, but others have positive views. One Korean woman attending the games told the news organization Public Radio International, “At first, I didn’t like the unified team — it was so sudden. But now I think it was a good idea.” Of course, there are advantages of participating as an unified team, nevertheless, there are serious problems that even ruin athletes lives.

First of all,  it snatched opportunities of few athletes to participate in Olympics. The unified Korean team wasn’t pre-planned for 2018 Olympics, it was just announced few weeks before the opening ceremony. That’s why the South Korean ice hockey team was already set up and practiced for about four years. Nevertheless, some South Korean athletes had to be removed to make room for the athletes from North Korea to join the team. The surprising fact is that North Korea originally did not get a single right to participate in Pyeongchang Olympics.

This isn’t the only problem of the unified Korean team. As it’s mentioned above, the ice hockey team has practiced about four years for this Olympics, and ice hockey is a game that requires incredible teamwork. But North Korean athletes joined the team and teammates have changed. What this means is that the four years of hard practice become useless. Sarah Murray who’s the current coach of South Korean ice hockey team said, “Adding somebody so close to the Olympics is a little bit dangerous just for team chemistry because the girls have been together for so long.”

Actually, it is not a bad idea for the unified Korean team to participate Olympics. By doing so,  the relationship between the two Koreas could turn favorable.

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