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[Editorial] Prudent Approach Needed on Raising NK Flag

Posted August. 11, 2002 22:32,   


It looks inevitable to raise the North Korean national flag in South Korea and to play the North Korean national anthem as the Communist country confirmed to attend the Busan Asian Games. It clearly represents a historic moment in promoting reconciliation between the long-time rivals since it will be the first time since the division of Korea, but still its significance is very complicated.

It is established practice to treat national flags and anthems of participating countries in international sporting events. Thus it is natural that the North Korean flag is hoisted in stadiums and places where North Korean players stay. So is it that the North Korean flag is raised and the North Korean anthem is played in awarding ceremonies when North Korean players get excellent results. Hence no need to make it a controversy.

But we must not ignore the fact that North Korea is South Korea`s Cold War foe and that the act to upheld North Korea is a serious crime according to the nation`s National Security Law. Moreover, a majority of the Korean public still vividly remember the provocative act by North Korea in the West Sea only two months ago. Then to which level should we accept the support of North Korea cheering team for their players?

The government said that it would foot the bill for North Korean players during their stay here. Then will the government pick up the tab for North Korean supporters too?

How much size of supporters will the government allow? Will it tolerate the use of the North Korean flag by North Korean supporters?

The government should provide clear answers to all these questions before it meets North Korean delegates in a working-level meeting starting from the 17th.

The North Korean flag and anthem are the symbols of North Korea. All eyes of the public are on the government`s decision on how to treat the symbols of its long time rival. The government will have to take every possible countermeasures since it will have a great repercussion on the future course of inter-Korean relations.

As a host, the government should require North Korea to cooperate for a success of the Busan Asian Games. South and North Korea are even promoting ways to ignite the Torch of the Games in Mt. Halla and Mt. Baekdu at the same time and combine the two torches into one at the Joint Security Area in Panmunjeom. The two countries have precedents to wisely solve thorny issues related to national flags and anthems in other international sporting events. It can be a considerable solution that South and North Korea use the `Korean Peninsula` flag in the opening ceremony and cheering.