The 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off in Pyeongchang in South Korea right next door to North Korea, a centerstage actor in the midst of tension-ridden global relations Friday night Eastern Time.
While the opening ceremony was a great work of art in itself and its message fosters a global message of love and peaceful relations, as I was watching the opening ceremonies I thought something bad was going to happen.
A collaborative North-South Korean team of athletes marched out together under a united flag as the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in was standing right near Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un while the United States’ Vice President Mike Pence was in earshot.
The final moments, the last leg of the torch relay and setting afire the Olympic cauldron had two members of the Unified Korean women’s hockey team, Chung Su-Hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea, bringing the torch up the stairs. It culminated with beloved Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, winner of a gold medal in 2010 and the silver in 2014, lighting the torch.
Watching the Unified Korean team was the moment I personally waited for during the ceremony, and it went off without a hitch, as Korea proudly strode, making me want to root for them.
Of course, they were not the only story. Team USA sent into the Olympics 244 athletes (135 men 109 women) with their representatives at the ceremony strolling to Gangnam style adorned with cowboy gloves, ready to start dueling. Team USA brought, “more athletes to Pyeongchang… than any nation ever has to a Winter Olympics.” As we reported earlier, this year’s team also has the most diverse of any U.S. winter squad, both race and gender – 108 women, 10 African Americans and 10 Asian Americans made the team.
It goes to show where Team USA’s head is at considering its diverse and robust army of athletes. Team USA obviously has taken the philosophy go big while combining fresh talent and grizzled experience with, “The age range on Team USA is from 17 to 39, with an average age of 26.4 years,” according to National Public Radio, Inc.
Also what was particularly moving was the performance of “Imagine,” by John Lennon, with, “Ha Hyun-woo of the indie rock band Guckkasten, Ahn Ji-young of K-pop duo Bolbbalgan4, Deulgukhwa singer Jeon In-Kwon and solo artist Lee Eun-mi each singing a verse of the classic 1971 single for the opening ceremony, proclaiming the theme “Peace in Motion,” according to Rolling Stone.
The performance was wonderful, moving, perfectly done, and I’m sure people will want to listen to that version almost just as much as the version John Lennon did with its wonderful high pitch and warm vibrant tone. Also, it encapsulates why this was a reintroduction of East meets West because the K-Pop elite came in to do the British Rock classic, while Korea, North and South, along with the U.S. came to figure out how to forgive, forget and become better collaborators in diplomacy. The song represents the best their talks can achieve, which I feel is more likely then you may think.
The Olympics, while about the athletes, also are about fostering good relations between political entities, since that’s what Ancient Greece did when they held the Olympics. The athletes are Representatives of their countries, fostering the idea of peace, especially in the opening ceremonies, at a time when everyone from around the world comes together. With hope, maybe this will be the Olympics which saves a significant population of the world.