It started with a surprisingly – indeed, shockingly – conciliatory broadcast from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Now, some in South Korea are calling the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics “the Pyongyang Games.”
Following 2017’s soaring nuclear tensions and rhetorical conflict between Washington and Pyongyang, the news that North Korea would participate in the Winter Olympics electrified the world. Since then, developments have proceeded at warp speed. Observers are now torn between feverish hopes for some kind of a breakthrough, and weary cynicism that we have seen it all before.
While credible rumors circulating in the South suggest that North Korea’s inclusion in the Games was, in fact, initiated by South Korea – during secret talks with North Korean officials in China – it is North that has been dominating headlines, both on the peninsula and globally. And it is North Korean officials who labelled, splendidly, the country’s appearance at Pyeonchang a “New Year’s gift” to the Korean people.