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By In Korea

The Ultimate Goal: Sports Diplomacy and Inter-Korean Peace

The division of the Korean Peninsula has for decades remained one of the most intractable geopolitical challenges in the world. It is the last relic of the Cold War, an ossified monument to the vampiric and paranoid quest for global ideological dominance that defined the latter half of the 20th century. The so-called “DPRK problem” has thus far been insoluble, despite attempts at reconciliation through war, peaceful negotiation, and economic cooperation.

The question is whether or not something as nakedly frivolous as sports can achieve a lasting peace. Historically, the answer is yes…

 

Read more at CGTN

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By In Korea

Making Sense of the Inter-Korean Summit

“The April 27th summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in was rife with symbolism. The two leaders shook hands across the demarcation line dividing the Koreas before stepping across it; they sat exactly 2018 millimeters across from each other on a table designed to look like two bridges merging together; and they planted a “unity tree” using soil from Mount Paektu in the North and Mount Halla in the South, then watered the tree with water from both the North’s Daedong River and the South’s Han River.

But the summit was not just symbolic. Concrete—albeit unspecific—commitments were made. A North-South liaison office will be established, separated families will reunite, and there will be a cessation of hostilities—specifically in the Yellow Sea where fatal attacks have occurred as recently as 2010. Most notably, both Koreas vowed to work together to achieve a denuclearized peninsula and to establish an official peace treaty to end the Korean War this year. Such a treaty will require an American cosign, as the 1953 armistice agreement that brought the War to a truce was not signed by South Korea.

The news was dizzying, leaving all who watched in a vertiginous state of skeptical disbelief and hopeful optimism. As developments continue to unfold, there are three essential questions to address in the immediate aftermath…”

 

Read more at Summit

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By In Hawaii, Korea

Lessons from the Hawaii Missile Threat

“Since I moved to Seoul four years ago, I’ve grown used to the hysterical concern that my family and friends back in Hawaiʻi have expressed about my new neighbor to the North. The hysteria has only intensified post-Trump, with every fiery sound byte and furious tweet manifesting into another frantic phone call asking if I’m sure I don’t want to move home yet.

It was a strange sort of role reversal when I woke up on an otherwise regular Sunday morning to discover that, while I was asleep, an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched, was inbound to Hawaiʻi, and it wasn’t a drill. No texts or voice messages were on my phone, and the worst-case scenario billowed in my mind like a mushroom cloud. A quick Internet search informed me, however, that the warning was a mistake. Gratefulness and relief washed over me. Harrowing stories of parents calling their kids to say goodbye slowly turned into memes poking fun at the whole situation. Everything was fine. Everyone was fine.

A latent restlessness lingered around my apartment, though; one that soon transformed into anger…”

 

Read more at Summit

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By In essay, Korea, Mixed Martial Arts

The Main Event

 

Front and center was a cage where men would soon punch each other for money. Seats inside Seoul’s cavernous Olympic Hall wrapped around it on two levels: cageside VIP tables for the type of people who wear suits to a cage fight, and open seating above it for everyone else. Behind the cage was a ramp that led up to a theater stage set up with gear for a rock band. Above, a jumbo screen showed silent highlight videos of older matches on a loop.

A pre-fight promotional video started. Clips of knockouts played as the lights dimmed. Band members crept to their positions through the shadows while the video showed mean-mugging men holding up their fists. The video culminated with resounding, ear-splitting English: “Top FC! Fighting! Champion!”

The screen went blank. A row of mortar-like pyrotechnics shot flames upward from the edge of the stage, and the band started screaming over the sounds of their instruments. They sounded like the kinds of bands most kids listen to in high school but are now embarrassed to think about–except all in Korean.

It was exactly the type of campy, weird high-production values that I wanted, but as the music pierced the on-stage flames and echoed through the auditorium, I didn’t quite feel there. I didn’t quite feel anywhere…”

 

Read more at Left Hooks

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By In Korea, Olympics

How North Koreans View The Pyeongchang Olympics

“In his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had a mixed bag of messages, for the North Korean people and the world. The speech, translated into English, ran more than 5000 words. The first three quarters of the speech were standard stuff: we have nukes, get over it and let’s continue to develop our economy. Then the tone shifted.

“This year is significant both for the North and the South, as in the North the people will greet the 70th founding anniversary of their Republic as a great, auspicious event, and in the South the Winter Olympic Games will take place,” Kim Jong-un said.

This is notable, not just in the context of the rest of the speech or the recent tensions on the Korean peninsula, but because this is a tremendous departure from how North Korea responded the last time South Korea hosted the Olympics 30 years ago…”

 

Read more at Vice Sports

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