Thursday, September 5, 2013

North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics?

This morning while fixing my breakfast coffee I heard a story on YTN television news that dealt with the possibility of North Korea hosting a skiing event during the forthcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.   The story has also received coverage in the press, including The Korea Herald.  Reportedly, a North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee suggested that the Masik ski resort, now under construction in North Korea, could possibly hold Olympic events once it is completed.  Not surprisingly, this news elicited an immediate response from the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee indicating that it would be "impossible" to split Olympic skiing events with North Korea, according to rules in the Olympic charter. However, as The Korea Herald goes on to point out, the ultimate authority in such a matter is the International Olympic Committee IOC.  Furthermore, as with the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the IOC will undoubtedly take an active interest in the possibility that North Korea will not only participate but might take a more active role in the Olympics.  The negotiations between North and South Korea about possible co-hosting of the 1988 Seoul Olympics are discussed in some detail in my book, with Heung-Soo Park, Global Television and the Politics of the Seoul Olympics, which is available full-text on Google books (if you're interested, read the section on "The Negotiations with North Korea," pp. 178-182)
With the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics only a little more than four years off, it is not at all surprising that ideas about co-hosting are surfacing.  Consider the broader context in which North and South Korea are reportedly discussing ways to "globalize" the Kaesong Industrial complex, the resumption of reunion visits for divided families, and President Park Geun-hye's public embrace of the notion of a DMZ Peace Park.   I've posted earlier, including one entry in January of this year, on how these developments relate to the forthcoming Olympics.  

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