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Korean-Australians greet N. Korean athletes

Posted September. 08, 2000 12:16,   


"Regardless of political system, aren`t they one of us, Koreans?"

About 40,000 Korean-Australians living in Sydney, Australia, have opened their arms wide to the North Korea athletes, as well as the South`s, as the two Olympic teams have made their way to the Summer Olympic Games.

The Han-Ho Olympic Support Committee, a volunteer resource support group formed by Korean-Australians, have shown exceptional enthusiasm.

"We will serve both the South`s and North`s athletes in the proud name of our people," the group has proclaimed.

Although the committee is understaffed, as many have been diverted for the preparation of cheering teams during the games, the staff at the committee have been scurrying about to provide a welcoming feast for the two Olympic teams. During the game of the North Korean athletes, many purchased tickets to their games in order to cheer the athletes with shouts of, "We are one!"

"We have even prepared gift packages for the North Korean athletes," Cha Jae-Sang, president of the support committee, said.

The Jae-Ho Association of Koreans from five provinces in North Korea also has been enthusiastically preparing for a meal with the North Korean athletes.

"We are looking into various possibilities in order to perhaps have a barbecue cook-out with the North Korean athletes who have come from so far," association president Kang Byuk-Jin said.

The Sydney Olympic Mission Group Committee, an organization formed by the Christian denominations in Sydney, also is awaiting anxiously the North Korean athletes. This group has announced that it would provide full services for not only the athletes who will be in the athletes` compounds, but also to the related officials and entourage of the North Korean Olympic team.

"For the convenience of the Olympic team members and entourage, we will provide transportation, interpretation and guided tours," Minister Jang Gi-Su of the Kampsi Galilee Church said. "Many of the ministers in Sydney have kept vacant their homes so that the North Korean athletes and related persons can make use of them."

Actually, the Korean-Australians and their private organizations lack any diplomatic channel to bring all of their plans to actualization. They have not even made an official request to the North Koreans. Although they are trying to approach the North Koreans through certain channels available to them, whether they will succeed is uncertain.

However, the Korean-Australians have insisted that the atmosphere of reconciliation begun by the inter-Korean summit in June and the family reunions must be kept alive. They vowed that they would put all of their efforts toward their goals even should the situation turn sour.

The atmosphere of reconciliation has descended upon the Korean community even thousands of miles away.