A thaw in relations between North and South in midwinter?
Although Korea’s traditional name means “the land of the morning calm”, the situation on the Korean peninsula has been anything but calm in recent years. Late last year, Pyongyang issued threatening statements on an almost daily basis, and the regime conducted several illegal ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests. Then, early this year, North Korea began to pursue a policy of détente: A North South communication channel was reopened, and both sides agreed that North Korean athletes, officials and artists would partic
ipate in the Games. Participation by North Korean athletes has caused controversy in the South. Critics charge that the decision to allow North Korea to participate was taken too hastily, and that the North has not reacted appropriately to diplomatic concessions, instead planning to hold a military parade immediately prior to the Games.
While the Federal Government has welcomed that North South talks can promote the ideal of the Olympic Truce, it also says that North Korea must immediately halt its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Federal President Steinmeier meets with President Moon
At the opening ceremony, Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier and several other Heads of State and Government from around the world will be among the spectators watching the teams of North and South Korea once again entering the Olympic stadium together, for the first time in many years. The Federal President will be accompanied by, among others, Minister of State Maria Böhmer.
Bilateral talks will be held with President Moon Jae in in Seoul prior to the opening ceremony. Besides the Olympics, the meeting will address the situation on the Korean peninsula and ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation. Steinmeier and Moon met previously in Berlin in July 2017, shortly after Moon had assumed office.
Pyeongchang – peace and prosperity
For most athletes, these political issues will take a back seat to the competitions themselves. Germany has sent a team of some 370 athletes, coaches, technicians and officials to the Games. However, fans who want to support the German Olympic athletes will need to get a very early start the time difference between Germany and South Korea is eight hours.
The literal translation of the name Pyeongchang means “peace and prosperity” – a promising sign that points to peaceful and successful Games!