Pyeongchang county of Gangwon province won the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, and this is the fourth time South Korea is hosting an international sporting event. Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988, Korea-Japan World Cup in 2002, Daegu hosted World Athletics Championships in 2011 and now Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. South Korea is only the sixth nation to host the sports’ "grand slam."
South Korean people, businesses and international media are enthusiastically celebrating Pyeongchang’s success, finally achieved after two failure, but it also has caused loss for others. Munich suffered a setback, Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics may be in jeopardy, and NBC network, who won the bid for the exclusive right to broadcast the 2018 Winter Games, might lose over hundred billion dollars because of the time difference.
At the moment, Pyeongchang hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics raises many unknowns for we do not know what might unfold on the Korean Peninsula. The greatest unknown is the relationship between South Korea and North Korea. How the Olympics affect whole international community will be determined by the relationship between two nations. Like everything else, North Korean currents is always changing. Its relationship with the South is in constant state of flux, even though it does come to a sudden halt every now and then.
Kim Jong-il's health is the most volatile issue. While his death will not mean the end of North Korean dictatorial regime, the transition to the 3rd hereditary succession will most certainly be chaotic. South Korea could actually bring about the collapse of the dictatorial regime with careful and strategic plans.
North Korean public perceptions are changing as people are becoming increasingly more dissatisfied with the regime. More than 20,000 North Korean defectors are in South Korea and large numbers of defectors are also living in China and other neighboring countries. Due to technological advances the North Korean government is losing their tight grip on information because now there are more than 100,000 people with mobile phones. People are also losing trust in the regime after March of Tribulation and failure of the Currency Reform. The regime is facing increasing numbers of instability factors.
South Korea can play a crucial role in charting a new course for North Korea, if it is able to trigger a North Korean "Jasmine Revolution." If the North Korean civilian populace rise up demanding freedom, two Koreas could be unified within next seven to ten years. Could 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics be the heralding event that begins the creation of one Korea? If two Koreas, who have been pointing guns at each other for more than six decades become one nation again, it will bring about unimaginable economic effect. The combination of South Korea’s democratic political system, advanced technologies and capital investments and North Korea’s bountiful natural resources, large inexpensive labor force and the transportation network that will link Pacific to the Continent will make Korea the center of the economic revival in East Asia.
Pyeongchang Winter Games could usher in a rise of a new Korea. South Korea used the 1988 Seoul Olympics to emerge as a global economic power. 1988 Seoul Olympics was a very successful event with the largest number of nations participating since the cold war, including Russia and other Communist Nations. In contrast, the poor execution of the 13th World Student Festival of Pyongyang in 1989 was the event that put North Korean economy in jeopardy. Two events led two Koreas to opposite destinies. I wish a new “Unified Korea” could be revealed at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games. This could be the historical turning point for Korea stepping up to another level. Neighboring countries would benefit greatly from new partnerships with the new advanced unified Korea.
Pyeongchang hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games is a great news. All South Koreans rejoiced with laughter and tears. Its glory will last long after the games have ended. However, if it was hosted by one new Korea, it will have significantly greater affect economically, culturally, and diplomatically. Possibilities of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are endless. For us, the journey starts now to create greater potential of the Winter Olympics. I pray that Pyongyang will get to join in this historic event.
Translation by Hoyeon Choi Supervised by Stella Cho
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