U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults and threats of nuclear war as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.
The formal meeting between Moon and the delegation was held the day after the two nations’ athletes marched under a unified flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday.
The conservative South Korean Chosun newspaper observed: “Seoul voluntarily postponed holding joint military exercises with the United States during the Games. The North somewhat repaired its global image by being the side that offers a hand, initiates contacts and sends figures from the top-10 list of its nomenclature”, he explained.
Sarah Murray, the head coach from Minnesota who doesn’t speak Korean, had referred to the plan to field a unified team as “the situation”. “It was out of our control”.
Even as the two Korean families met in the Blue House, anti-Pyongyang protests were being held. Those rumors soon dissipated. “We can’t say right now”. “I’m really wishing it would have happened in July. And those exercises are meant to train absolutely not for a defensive war against North Korea, conducting them would partially cancel whatever agreements are reached during the Olympics and we will have a new escalation on our hands”, Asmolov said. For the Americans he offers assurances that Seoul would not allow Pyongyang to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea. They learned how much Koreans care about age as a measure of seniority, so much that younger players would often walk through the airport carrying three bags because older players told them to do it.
Of the three, the North Koreans might be the easiest sell. But this fear has been unfounded.
“They laugh together, they hang out together, they eat meals together”. They’ve come out of Korea. Perhaps the best comparison is to the man who Moon has called his “destiny”, and whose North Korean policy Moon is forever linked to: The late liberal president, Roh Moo-hyun.
The prospect of two-way talks between the Koreas, however, may not be welcomed by the United States.
South Korea suggested the formation of a joint team as part of its efforts to use the Games to re-engage with the North and pave the way for talks over the North’s weapons programme. But one of the women told reporters they had traveled from North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.
The Korean roster also includes Canadian college player Danelle Im, as well as Caroline Park, who grew up in Canada and played hockey for Princeton University.
Later on Saturday, Moon and Kim Yong-nam will attend the first ice hockey match played by teams from both the sides, according to reports.
There’s worry, too, that the proposed summit in Pyongyang may come with preconditions – a North Korean specialty. Eight of the players on the Korean team are teenagers. “It’s very old-style”, he said. “And I didn’t want that”.
Japan does not participate in the military exercises, but it is within reach of North Korean missiles and relies heavily on US forces and their readiness to deal with that threat. Swiss forward Alina Muller scored four goals in 22 minutes.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon hosted the North Koreans for lunch Sunday before Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, hosted them for dinner ahead of the concert. That Olympic unity is more than just propaganda.
Playing in front of senior members of North Korean’s leadership, she added, “was the greatest honour for me”. But they didn’t get many chances, as Switzerland dominated.
This was Olympic hockey, but unlike anything many in the audience had seen before. She also delivered a letter inviting Moon to a summit with her brother in Pyongyang, and asked him to play a “leading role” in reuniting the two Koreas after almost seven decades.
“This is very unbelievable”, says Lee, 39, while looking down on the ice, his seven-year-old daughter sitting beside him. I feel fortunate to see a historic game.