Academy Chronicle

2018 Winter Olympics: North Korea’s Pop Performance

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The 2018 Olympic Winter Games have successfully commenced on the 9th of February, with the internationally celebrated sporting event  taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea this year.

While excitement for the approaching season of lively sports competitions and grand ceremonies picks up steam, the sensitive topic of peace between North and South Korea catches our attention once again.

The Moranbong Band, a 140-member North Korean orchestra of musicians and dancers, is preparing to perform western pop songs in South Korea (more specifically, the cities of Seoul and Gangneung) as the upcoming Olympics takes place.

However, because our school, Bergen County Academies, holds such a large Korean American student population, this news is definitely a source of mixed feelings and uncertain opinions within our student body.

“Maybe we can [learn to] put aside our differences through this opportunity.”

Recently, North and South Korea had discussed and agreed on the appearances of North Korean female performers as being an effort to improve relations between the two Koreas. However, there is an alarming concern that the band will be used as propaganda for celebrating North Korea.

Heidi Yun, a BCA AAST sophomore, shares, “I feel like since it is the Olympics, everyone will say [that North Korea] will use propaganda.” However, she chooses to think positively and hopes others will too. “It’s a group effort, and I really appreciate it.”

“This is one way to start showing some reconnection of the two countries, especially since athletics are a great way to show sportsmanship.”

— Kaitlyn Gill

Yet, the Olympics is globally known as an event that brings together nations and their people, so others also choose to be optimistic. Ginerva Ha, a Korean-American AMST junior at BCA, shares that she would not describe herself “to the extent of being overjoyed,” but believes it to be “commendable that South Korean President Moon’s cabinet has made such an effort to create at least a temporary state of unity and peace between our nations.”

In fact, North and South Korea agreed to create their first ever unified Olympic team for women’s ice hockey. This  team has elicited much controversy in the South, but may also be seen as a sign for future peace between the two nations. Kaitlyn Gill, a Korean American AAST junior admits to being wary of North Korea’s involvement in the PyeongChang Olympics, but acknowledges that “this is one way to start showing some reconnection of the two countries, especially since athletics are a great way to show sportsmanship.”

Meanwhile, another Korean American AMST student, Eugene Yang, expresses concern for “the idea of North Korea competing under the unified name of Korea” and showcasing “Korean pride,” especially with the ongoing tension between the North and South even after the civil war had ended.

However, it is important to note that in May of 2017, Gangneung hosted the Peace Education Festival in preparation for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. During the festival, over 400 children and teachers from South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and the Philippines took part in Korean cultural activities to learn about peace and its relevance to the coming Olympics. Therefore, although admittedly controversial, this year’s Olympics may also be seen as a bright step towards peace. BCA AAST junior Nick Kim explains, “For the longest time, the relationship between North and South Korea was notorious for being so hostile, but maybe we can [learn to] put aside our differences through this opportunity.”

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2018 Winter Olympics: North Korea’s Pop Performance