For the first time in 27 years, North and South Korea are fielding a joint team at an international sports event. Athletes from the two Koreas will also march together under a “unification flag” at the Feb. 9 opening ceremony of the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which they haven’t done since the 2007 Asian Winter Games. This is a setback to the U.S. government’s decadeslong effort to isolate North Korea and an advance for the Korean people.
The delegation will include a joint women’s hockey team and North Korean athletes also competing in figure skating, speed skating, Alpine skiing and cross-country, as well as 230 cheerleaders, a Tae Kwon Do demonstration team and a music group.
Washington, with the collusion of Moscow, forcibly split Korea in two and occupied the South in 1945 against the will of the Korean people. During the 1950-53 Korean War, the U.S. rulers and their allies failed to conquer the entire peninsula and crush the revolution in the North, despite carpet bombing that destroyed almost every building there. More than 4 million people were killed, including 2 million civilians.
To this day Washington refuses to sign a peace treaty formally ending the war. Instead, it seeks to isolate, economically throttle and intimidate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, demanding the government give up its nuclear and missile programs. There are 28,500 U.S. troops still stationed in the South.
To facilitate the agreement on Korea’s joint participation in the winter games, President Donald Trump, in response to South Korea’s request, agreed to postpone provocative annual U.S.-South Korean military maneuvers until after the Olympics and Paralympic games, which end March 25.
At the same time, Washington has continued to tighten sanctions on the DPRK that hit working people the hardest.
The North Korean government has not conducted any nuclear weapons or long-range missile tests since the end of November.
While the easing of tensions is an advance for the peoples of North and South Korea, it has not sparked the same enthusiasm in the South as previous joint delegations. A poll by SBS TV showed some 80 percent of respondents in their 20s and 30s are unhappy about the joint team.
“The situation is vastly different from the hopes and encouragement that met the unified teams fielded in 1991 at the World Table Tennis Championships” and world soccer youth championship, the South Korean daily Hankyoreh said Jan. 22. This has much to do with the North Korean government’s threats to engulf Seoul “in a sea of fire” if Washington dares to attack. Seoul is 35 miles from the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.
The government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea says having a growing nuclear arsenal and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland is crucial as a protection against the U.S. rulers.
But the development of nuclear weapons and threats to obliterate Seoul undercut the moral high ground won through the resistance of the people of Korea against the U.S. government’s occupation of the South, deadly war and ongoing hostility against the North.
Harsh sanctions against North Korea
The Trump administration has stepped up U.S. economic pressure on North Korea, pushed tighter sanctions through the U.N. Security Council, and convinced the government of China to join in applying some of the sanctions.
North Korean leader Kim Jung Un said in his 2018 New Year’s speech that the country faces its “harshest-ever challenges” as a result of the “difficult living conditions caused by life-threatening sanctions and containment.”
He proposed a joint Olympics team, reiterating Pyongyang’s long-held stance that the “North and South must work together to alleviate the tensions and work together as a people of the same heritage to find peace and stability.”
President Trump claims that the talks between North and South that led to the combined team happened because Washington has been “strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North.”
The Socialist Workers Party says working people in the U.S. and around the world should demand that Washington permanently end its military maneuvers and withdraw its troops from Korea, lift all sanctions against the North, and immediately get rid of all U.S. nuclear weapons.
Korea is one!