The Atlantic

The Precarious Politics of the Joint Korean Hockey Team

It's an unprecedented diplomatic breakthrough. But how can two rival nations build teamwork?
Source: Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

On January 9, roughly 30 years after North Korea bombed a Korean Air passenger plane in protest of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Seoul and Pyongyang announced a stunning diplomatic breakthrough: North Korea would send athletes and performers to participate in the Winter Olympics, which begin on February 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Then, 11 days later, the International Olympics Committee approved an ambitious proposal from South Korea: the formation of a joint women’s ice hockey team with North Korea. The team, which will be created by adding 12 North Korean players to the South Korean roster, would be the first of its kind to compete in an Olympic event.

Seoul pitched the plan as a way to ease long-standing political and military tensions on the peninsula,

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