As Olympics shift to sports

After a weekend wherein a fusillade of can’t-consider-it political surprises was given to the world speak approximately Olympic-flavored worldwide family members in preference to just the thrill of victory, the 2018 Winter Games settled Sunday into what everybody came right here for at least for the moment. In a few families, they speak about sports activities to avoid talking about politics. But the 2 have masses in the commonplace. Both take vicinity in arenas, real or metaphorical. Both are, arguably, expressions of human battle changed into aggressive video games with unique guidelines. And each is exhilarating when they perform at the very fringe of precedent.

In that respect, this turned into an Olympic-grade weekend of politics in Pyeongchang while it got here to North Korea and South Korea, and by way of extension, it got here to North Korea and the arena. The two Koreas were satisfied-handed and edged nearer as the sector watched. The United States seemed to be the peculiar guy out and possibly was. And while it’s too early to suggest that the tectonic plates of Korean Peninsula safety have shifted.

The inaugural weekend of the Pyeongchang Winter Games has already secured its spot in Olympic lore for its visuals. There were North and South sides with the aid of facet inside the starting ceremony, at the hockey ice, and within the dignitaries’ box, with the U.S. Looking on like a child who didn’t get picked within the sandlot. What occurred right here, exactly? Let’s evaluate five things we know now that we didn’t recognize before this first Olympic weekend commenced.



Korean watchers knew of Kim Yo Jong, normally earlier than this, and she was growing within the hierarchy over the years because her brother took energy upon the death of their father, Kim Jong Il, in the past due 2011. In contrast to her brother Kim Jong Nam, she became in desire, who changed into taken out by using suspected assassins at a Malaysia airport counter remaining yr.

But the decision to send her to the South was the face of the regime for the primary Korean Olympics because 1988 was noteworthy for her and the audience that the flow changed into what it was supposed to attain. Kim Yong Nam, the anticipated predominant envoy and a 90-yr-antique figurehead with nearly no real strength beyond his head of country title, was shunted to the facet because the 30-12 months-vintage Kim Yo Jong glided into the highlight.

To the lawsuits, she brought adolescents and a stage of glamour, yes, however something greater and sizeable, too: Not simplest turned into she an unimpeachable representative of the Kim dynasty because of the large man’s little sister, however her obvious poise and luxury in the public eye interrupt the clichéd “hermit kingdom” narrative that the West often slathers onto North Korea. That’s a mighty accomplishment in itself.


Moon Jae-in’s task is not clean. He replaced a difficult liner who turned tossed from a workplace after a large public rebellion. He advocates great engagement with the North — a stance that no longer only has big competition at home but calls for him to bop delicately around the U.S. President Donald Trump, who has at times grown to become his country’s severe issues approximately North Korea’s nuclear intentions into a recreation of personally baiting his North Korea counterpart.

Like him or hate him, even though it’s tough to pop out of this weekend, concluding that Moon didn’t make development. There he becomes with the delegation from the North at the outlet ceremony, at a luncheon in Seoul, at a hockey sport, watching a joint Koreas group take the ice. And there he becomes with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at quick tune speedskating, all smiles and handshakes. At the Olympics, which have such high stakes for using a Moon, he plays a delicate poker recreation. On this hand, he appears to be raking in the chips.


Despite the similarity in spelling, Pyeongchang is not Pyongyang. But one is probably forgiven for concluding that, given how the North Koreans stole the whole show with a deft hand clad in a sudden velvet glove. While the Olympics have continually covered politics, or political activities have, as a minimum, popped up, Pyeongchang is exceptional in the manner it has become a full-tilt platform for traits in international family members during its starting days.

This shouldn’t be sudden. Sure, the International Olympic Committee — appearing in its pursuits — casts the Games as a respite from real-global machinations. But whenever you’re getting a large bunch of nations collectively for a competition of patriotism, adrenaline, and bravado, you need to expect some boundary-jumping into the messiness and sensitive nature of humanity’s non-Olympic pastimes.


At least in the United States, there’s a trope that North Koreans are one step shy of being extraterrestrials. This isn’t always the case. They stay beneath very distinctive, once in a while insupportable situations, but there, in fact, fellow people. Not robot. Smiles. Fears. Laughter. Humanity. Over the coming days, the sector will look at the joint Korean ladies hockey crew. As it does, it’d remember a question: Looking at the gamers, without checking the roster, can you truly inform North from South? Watch the faces, the skills, the determination. And don’t forget what so many human beings who’ve lived under repression say: In any u. S ., there may be the authorities and the human beings.


No count number the way you slice it; from the Asia attitude, the Americans did not come out on a pinnacle in the race to seize the narrative. No matter Pence’s emphatic pledge to make certain the Olympics didn’t turn into an excessive amount of a North Korea-sympathizing lovefest. It wasn’t just the indelible visual of Pence in the commencing rite box, stone-faced, sitting in front of Kim’s sister and looking awkward. Most of the memorable snapshots from the early moments of the Games, which are already written in records’ ink, contain North and South getting alongside, the North accomplishing front of the sector’s cameras, and Pence — and accordingly Washington — a supporting participant at exceptional.

What does the White House make of the mini (to this point) North-South thaw? Your flow, Mr. Trump. So sports, then. Already parent skating and speedskating are in complete swing. Alpine and skiing are simply gearing up. People from the network of nations will extend themselves, surprise themselves, disappoint themselves, outdo themselves, beat themselves up for their disasters, or find a manner guilty others: all the high-quality and messy matters of being human.

Sort of like their counterparts in that other area, the political one, except without the possibility of all-out war at the quiet of the run. And those things at the very fringe of precedent that almost by no means take place? Those are driven out to the rinks, the mountainsides, and the halfpipes for proper now. Where they’ll be in two days, every week, or at the remaining rite of Pyeongchang 2018 — within the arenas of competition or outside them — is anyone’s guess.

Jeremy D. Mena
Alcohol geek. Future teen idol. Web practitioner. Problem solver. Certified bacon guru. Spent 2002-2009 researching plush toys in Miami, FL. Won several awards for exporting tar in Libya. Uniquely-equipped for managing human growth hormone in Libya. Spent a weekend implementing fried chicken on the black market. Spoke at an international conference about working on carnival rides in Miami, FL. Developed several new methods for donating jack-in-the-boxes in Edison, NJ.