South Korea will look to share Olympic responsibilities with North Korea. Kim Jong-un's newly built ski resort could serve as an alpine venue.
South Korea has announced its intent to share Olympic responsibilities with North Korea. Do Jong-hwan, South Korea’s sports minister, will raise the idea with Jang Woong, North Korea’s delegate to the IOC. If an agreement is reached, Do will look to seek approval from IOC president Thomas Bach when the two meet later this month.
The sports minister intends for Kim Jong-un’s Masikryong ski resort to be used as an alpine venue. The 1,400-hectare ‘luxury’ resort is located in Kangwon province, three hours from North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang (not to be confused with Olympic host PyeongChang). Despite Kim’s ambitions, the resort is yet to attract much interest from the international skiing community. Accounts suggest that Masikyrong is largely unused. This will come as a huge disappointment to Kim, who envisages North Korea as a major tourist destination.
Do Jong-hwan has also proposed the idea of an inter-Korean women’s ice hockey team. Should Pyongyang agree to this, both the IOC and the International Ice Hockey Federation will need to approve it. South Korea has already secured its Olympic berth. The team recently won the Division IIA World Championships, beating out Great Britain and the Netherlands. North Korea has never previously qualified for the women’s hockey event.
The move to include Pyongyang in Olympic discussions is in following with South Korea’s latest efforts to engage its northern neighbour. President Moon Jae-in recently declared his intent to meet with Kim Jong-un, an act that could ease tensions between North and South. Earlier this year, North Korea conducted four missile tests within a five-week period. There is concern around the world that Kim’s nuclear ambitions are coming to fruition.
Kim has since been accused of sending drones across the border to spy on US missile defense systems. The US is already enraged over the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea on charges of subversion and espionage. After 18 months in hard labour, Warmbier suffered a traumatic brain injury and was released back into American custody. The US is investigating the circumstances that led to his death.
GIven the current political climate, North Korea’s inclusion in Olympic plans will no doubt spark controversy. Olympic organisers will be praying that international fans aren’t deterred from attending.