The upcoming Winter Olympics marks a massive diplomatic breakthrough for North and South Korea as their athletes will reportedly be marching together under the Korean Unification Flag during the event’s opening ceremony.
The agreement between the two countries resulted from days of talks at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), reports CNN.
According to South Korea’s unification ministry, both countries have agreed to participate in a range of joint activities in the sporting event scheduled in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Before the Olympics, skiers from North and South Korea will reportedly be training together at a resort in North Korea. Performers from the two countries have also scheduled a joint cultural event there.
The countries even agreed to form a joint North and South Korean women’s ice hockey team for the event. North Korea has also committed to sending about 230 supporters to South Korea to cheer for its delegation, plus a smaller group of North Korean athletes and supporters to participate in the Paralympics.
In his New Year’s message, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had earlier offered to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in the same speech where he claimed to have accomplished the ability to launch a nuclear missile at the United States. In response, South Korean officials suggested meeting with North Korea in the DMZ to initiate the discussion.
Before the agreements can be implemented, however, they would still have to be approved by the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
“We are sure that the two Korean delegations will present their ideas and proposals at the meeting on Saturday in Lausanne. This will then enable the IOC to carefully evaluate the consequences and the potential impact on the Olympic Games and the Olympic competitions,” the committee said in a statement on Wednesday.
The first time the two countries marched together under the unification flag was at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships. This was followed by a number of sporting events intermittently since then, with the latest being the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
In recent years, athletes from both countries have expressed unity through their own gestures, winning the hearts of millions of people around the world.