The symbolic union of the two teams from the hostile countries provokes loud protests. Flags and images are lit and torn apart.
Trampled down portraits of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, torn flags of association and tightened security measures: loud protests overshadowed the only Olympic test of the joint ice hockey team of South and North Korea for the women’s tournament at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
During the 3-1 defeat of the Asian women’s team in Incheon against Sweden, several dozen opponents of the decision to unite the two sides from the hostile countries in a highly symbolic manner with chanting voices of their anger breathed fresh air in front of the arena. A large police force separated the demonstrators from numerous supporters of the historic Olympic deal.
Over Megafone, the two camps fought loudly against each other with the slogans “Pyongyang Games” on the part of the Anti-North Korea faction and “Peace Games” on the part of the supporters of the joint Olympic appearance.
In the Seonhak-International Ice-Rink-Arena, the 3000 spectators welcomed the Korean team with four players from the north on arriving with thunderous applause and frenetic cheers. The blue and red jerseys of the hostesses were decorated with “KOREA”in large letters. The blue and white “unification flag” was hoisted next to the Swedish national flag, while the organizers sounded the 600 year old folk song “Arirang” instead of a national anthem.
The joint ice hockey team is part of a trade agreement between the two Korean states to allow North Korea to participate in the Winter Games. The measure has been highly controversial in the south since it was announced. Within a short period of time, 40,000 opponents participated in an online petition to the South Korean government for the subsequent cancellation of the agreement. Many South Koreans accuse their government of sacrificing for political reasons for North Korean women who have been eliminated from the Olympic team.