The Korean Peninsula has been divided for over 70 years, with one of the last borders of the Cold War separating people in North and South Korea from each other. Nevertheless, the two countries will compete as a joint team at the IHF Handball World Championship, which starts today (10 January) in Berlin).
From closer relations in sport ...
North and South Korea are thus continuing to build closer relations in sport. Almost one year ago to the day, a joint women’s ice-hockey team competed in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea. The images of the athletes entering the stadium together created hopes for fundamental rapprochement between the two opposing countries.
... to a political thaw
The process of détente has in fact continued on the Korean Peninsula beyond the field of sport since then. In late April 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at the demarcation line in Panmunjom where, in a symbolic gesture, the two men shook hands. Two further summits followed. Since then, the Korean Peninsula has seen the start of a political thaw which many would no longer have believed possible.
German support for talks between North and South Korea
Intensive talks between South and North Korea over the past year have led to the two countries moving closer together in virtually all areas. Agreements have been reached in various areas, including infrastructure, culture and research, and even in the sensitive military sector. The German Government has actively supported these processes and encourages the partners to continue on this path, liaising closely with the international community.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented as follows:
When a united ‘Team Korea’ comprising players from South and North meets our national German team in the opening match of the IHF Handball World Championship, it will be a symbol of hope for all of us. Intensive talks between South and North over the past year have led to the two countries moving closer together in virtually all areas. Sport played a key role in this development from the outset.
The continuation of unification in the field of sport at the IHF Handball World Championship, which starts today, creates hope that closer political relations will also develop on the Korean Peninsula this year. The opening match will see Korea compete against the host country, Germany, which has played as a united team since reunification.