December 18, 2007

Olympic Torch Will Pass Through North Korea

In another symbolism of reconciliation and peace in East Asia, the Beijing Olympic Torch will pass from Japan to South Korea, then to North Korea (for the first time), and to Vietnam, en route to Beijing (but bypassing Taiwan, as China and Taiwan failed to agree on the details). The passage from South Korea to North Korea via the DMZ will be highly significant and will reinforce the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation shown by the two sides of Korea. An inter-Korean joint cheering squad is also planning to cross the Korean peninsula via the recently-opened inter-Korea railway to China.

Moreover, Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Lenovo (a Chinese IT company), three of the main companies sponsoring the Beijing Olympics, will be allowed to advertise their products by cars when the Olympic Torch Relay passes through Pyongyang on April 28. North Koreans will get some taste of Western-style marketing from a South Korean, an American, and a Chinese firm. Too bad the Japanese firms are not joining the bandwagon.

Barring any disintegration of the six-nation nuclear disarmament and security agreement, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with both sides of Korea participating and cheered by a joint cheering squad and a large population of ethnic Korean in China, will provide a golden opportunity to showcase Korean reconciliation as well as reconciliation and common prosperity in East Asia.

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