Wednesday

July 13: 2011: A United [Olympic] Korea?

North Korea expressed its hope that South Korea would co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Pyeongchang will be the first Asian city outside of Japan to host an Olympic even. Japan hosted the 1972 Sapporo and 1998 Nagano Winter Games, as well as the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games.

Pyeongchang ran bids for both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, losing to eventual host cities Vancouver, Canada and Sochi, Russia.

It is a completely positive sign that North Korea wishes to show its support (in a small way) for a unified Korean Peninsula. In both the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics a united Korean team walked in the opening ceremony. South Korea and Japan even set aside historical and cultural differences to host the 2002 FIFA World Cup. I'm saying that it is possible, right?

There is a prestige that the Olympic Games (and global sporting events) bring that transcends international and political strife, however it is not an excuse to disregard those political issues. So, is North Korea even capable of successfully co-hosting an Olympic Games?

North Korea is plagued with negativity, to say the least. Within the sporting world, North Korea has been a bit unpredictable. There was the success of the country's first female Gymnastics Olympic Medal, by Hong Un Jong and her triple-twist Yurchenko vault. But controversy soon followed with the Jong's sister, Hong Su Jong's, ban from the 2012 London Olympics (check out the article here!) Further there was the mystery around the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup North Korea team that momentarily stunned Brazil with their goal (North Korea would eventually lose 2-1).

But athletics aside, North Korea is the butt of many joke. Recently the NBC comedy show, "30 Rock," made fun of the country's food shortage, as well as its deranged leader, Kim Jong Il (played expertly by Margaret Cho). There are numerous blogs about the oddity of the country (Kim Jong Il Looking At Things Tumblr).

Politically, North Korea continues to be an unpredictable country, one that seemingly likes to test the international waters. There was a nuclear-bomb scare; the alleged North Korean torpedo that sunk the South Korean ship, Cheonan; and the bombing of a South Korean island in 2010 (the NYTimes article here!).

I ask again, is North Korea capable of co-hosting the Winter Olympics? Not really, no; that's my opinion.

My issue is that North Korea showed their interest after the fact. There were two previous opportunities for North Korea to seek a joint-bid with South Korea. The attention and reputation the Olympic Games will bring South Korea is going to be unprecedented, and I think, change the way the world views the country. South Korea is already gaining a lot of traction with its title as World Design Capital in 2010; figure skating star, Kim Yu Na; and budding Fashion Industry that most insiders know is the "New Tokyo." South Korean students are a common fixture in prestigious colleges and universities worldwide. South Korean golfer, Y.E. Yang, de-throned Tiger Woods in 2009. Is North Korea a little jealous?

There has always been a sort of, in my opinion, sibling rivalry between the two Korean countries. It seems, at a simplified opinion, that North Korea wants to be able to capitalize on the 10-year efforts of South Korea. This could well be a wolf dressed in sheep's skin.

Peter

Check out this Universal Sports article here!

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