Posted January. 22, 2018 07:37,
Updated January. 22, 2018 08:35
North Korean pre-Olympics delegation led by Hyon Song-wol, head of the Samjiyon Orchestra, arrived in Gangneung Sunday to inspect the venue for its art performances. The delegation arrived in Seoul through the Gyeongui Line land route and boarded the KTX express train at Seoul Station to Gangneung. The North Korean team had been scheduled to arrive on Saturday but cancelled Friday night. The next day they rescheduled the visit. Hyon Song-wol has not provided an explanation for the reversed decision, and apparently the South Korean government has not heard the reasons, either.
North Korea’s fickle and audacious behavior is nothing new in inter-Korean relations. It is common for the North to reschedule plans as they wish. In the past, North Korea delayed the first inter-Korean summit for one day and the second inter-Korean summit for two months. The North gave “lack of preparation” and “flood damage control” as explanations back then, but this time it did not give one. This must be baffling for the South Korean government, which is welcoming the North Korean delegation by positioning hundreds of police at each stop and providing one whole KTX train.
North Korea’s capricious behavior is due to its one man dictatorship — all decisions are subject to change according to its leader Kim Jong Un’s wishes. Underneath the unpredictable behavior is the intention to increase internal conflict in the South by expressing discontent toward the South’s negative public opinion and therefore “tame” the South Korean government. This is evident in the critique in the North Korean state paper Rodong Sinmun, using phrases such as “cursing” and “offensively acting blindly” to describe the South’s public opinion. The North is plotting to divide the South Korean society where a plethora of opinions coexist.
In the meantime, the two Koreas and the International Olympic Committee held a meeting Sunday in Lausanne, Switzerland, and decided to include 12 North Korean athletes in the women’s ice hockey roster, guaranteeing three North Korean athletes to have a spot in every match. This will hurt South Korean players’ chances of competing, despite the government’s previous announcement that a unified women’s hockey team would not deprive South Korean athletes of opportunities. Also, the South will not have full autonomy over coach selection. The spirit of sportsmanship is nowhere to be found in the name of Olympic success. Athletes will feel at loss for having to wear the “COR” uniform bearing the united flag of the peninsula in place of the South Korean flag.
North Korea is acting as if their participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Games is a favor that South Korea has to be grateful for. However, the South Korean government is focused on hosting peaceful Olympics, and says “yes” to everything North Korea wants. Current developments suggest that difficulties in the inter-Korean relationship are likely to continue in the future. South Korea needs to build a healthy relationship with the North by not allowing it to make inappropriate decisions. North Korea should realize that their unruly behavior will only expose their shameful reality and fan the anti-North sentiment in South Korea.