North and South Korea marching under a united flag for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, has made the major headlines today.
While this could be seen as a “dream come true” for some to see the bitter rivals “unite”, reality is both nations are far from true reconciliation.
A commentary from The Mercury News, points out failed reconciliations through sporting events in the past, highlighting British and Americans who were at each other’s throats at the London Games of 1908, Franco-German tensions at the Paris Games of 1900, and the iconic 1972 Munich Games that far-from united the two Germanies.
In the past, both nations have also marched together in the 2000 and 2004 Summer Games, as well as the 2006 Winter Games – but tensions still continued after.
Krishnadev Calamur of The Atlantic wrote that the US being allies with their Southern neighbours had perhaps pushed the reclusive nation’s decision to show solidarity.
“It could be purely symbolic, a propaganda effort by the North to buy goodwill in South Korea and the international community, where there is intense distrust of Pyongyang’s intentions because of its past record of cheating on its international obligations regarding nuclear weapons and missiles.”
He adds that the announcement “could help build confidence between the two Korean governments, as well as public confidence in the South over the North’s intentions,” and did not deny that the move could possibly “repair relations between the two Koreas, but if the past is any indicator, such gains are typically tenuous.”
And whether such lure of the Korean Peninsula uniting will stop or persuade the North’s leader Kim Jong-un to renounce nuclear weapons – the US and its allies are not convinced.
Japan has warned that North Korea cannot be trusted to behave themselves despite such positivity in front of millions on live television, and South Korea should not be naïve.
Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono was reported saying: “It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea.
“The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working.”
Kono earlier mentioned that Pyongyang’s weapon programme remained an ongoing threat and believes North Korea “wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear and missile programs.”
While US President Donald Trump speaking with Reuters, merely expressed hope the standoff with Pyongyang could be resolved “in a peaceful way, but it’s very possible that it can’t.”
Trump also admitted that Pyongyang are close to striking US, “And they get closer every day.”
To address the matter, the president said he is open to discussing with ‘Little Rocket Man’ Kim, “I’d sit down, but I’m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem.”
Nevertheless, he highlights the talks between North and South Korea over the Winter Olympics could help resolve the nuclear crisis.
“I’m not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful. They’ve talked for 25 years and they’ve taken advantage of our presidents, of our previous presidents.”
Trump who had promised “fire and fury” for North Korea previously, however did not reveal if US would act on North Korea first, “We’re playing a very, very hard game of poker and you don’t want to reveal your hand,” he said.
While nuclear talks and tensions are put to rest at this moment, aside Kim sending his 230-member cheering squad known as the “army of beauties”, North and South Korea are set to join forces in the women’s ice hockey team as well.
Scott Snyder, director of the Program on US-Korea Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations believes “this is a limited-time only inter-Korean engagement.”
“In a way the Olympics are a commercial break from the drama and tensions that have continued to build between the US and North Korea,” he opined on TIME.
But there are some South Koreans who are calling out North Korea’s propaganda and remain concerned over the public détente displayed.
A Chosun Ilbo headline read “N.Korea’s Army of Cheerleaders Needs to Stay at Home” while warning that Kim could use the sporting event as a perfect venue for his nuclear ambition.
Paik Hak-soon, the director of the Centre for North Korean studies at Sejong Institute in South Korea, similarly finds this to be merely a tactic carried out by the hermit kingdom.
“Seeing good results in competitions thanks to the cheering squad would enable the North Koreans to say they contributed to a successful Olympics and the South Korean government would likely agree.
“In the end, they are using this old tactic to get to Washington through Seoul,” he told Express UK.
For others, the Koreans’ talks alone meant that North Korea has ultimately won over the US, and Kim over Trump.