Follow-up to KR postings: Sports and Reconciliation in Korea;
Train to Ferry Koreans from Both Sides to Beijing Olympics
The Beijing Olympics is around the corner, but the promised joint, inter-Korean cheering squad (travelling by train across Korea, crossing the DMZ, towards Beijing, mobilizing Koreans in the two side of Korea and ethnic Korean in China to cheer together for the Korean team) --let alone a unified team-- is nowhere to be seen. As indicative of the recent chill between the two sides of Korea, the two sides of Korea will not even march together under one symbolic flag of the Korean peninsula (photo), as they have done in the past few Olympics and international sporting events.
The opportune moment to showcase Korean reconciliation on the world's biggest stage, near the Korean peninsula, seems to have fizzled. This development is unfortunate, especially in light of the resumption of the six party talks and the unprecedented discussion of Korean peninsula issues at the six-nation meeting of foreign ministers in Singapore. Peace and normalization of relations (between Washington and Pyongyang) may be on the horizon, yet the two sides of Korea have diverged further.
With the policy reversal from the new Lee Myung-bak administration of South Korea earlier this year, inter-Korean relations have deterioriated, exasperated by the killing of a South Korean tourist in the Mount Kumgang (Geumgang) and North Korea's refusal for further investigation. Shortly after that incident, as if a jinx is in place, a North Korean worker in the South Korean-operated Kaesong industrial complex was killed in an industrial accident, which was not covered in the press as much. Inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges that have been widespread and successful in the past ten years now have virtually come to a standstill -- or a reversal.