Tag: Olympics

US Men’s Curling Team Accidentally Given Women’s Gold Medals

By Jason Patterson | United States

There was a little bit of confusion during the medal ceremony for, where the men’s curling team received their gold medals in the Pyeongchang Games.

After the victorious proud American team stood on the top of the podium and the national anthem was about to be played they noticed they’d received the awards engraved for the women’s winners.

Only one member Joe Polo, who is the teams alternative received the correct men’s medal, WNBC reported.

Thankfully the screwup was quickly fixed and the men got the appropriate medals they deserved.

Humoring the media, athlete John Schuster simply said, “A gold medal in curling is a gold medal in curling.”

Schuster, along with his American teammates Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Polo, clinched the top prize in a 10-7 win over Sweden, scoring the underdog Americans their first-ever gold medal in men’s curling.

Sweden, the reigning world champion, finished second for silver, and Canada placed third, scoring bronze.

White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump was in the arena for the curling final, cheering on the American squad. She’ll be leading the U.S. delegation at the Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday.


Why A Unified Korean Olympic Team Is A Good Thing

By Ricardo Tremblay | KOREAS

When the news first broke that North Korea and South Korea would have a joint Olympic hockey team, many people were shocked, and rightfully so. There were many skeptics as to what North Korea’s true motives were for doing something like this after months of tension between western countries and North Korea.

But at the end of the day, does it matter what their intentions are? There is clearly no harmful intent for doing this. Skeptics will argue that North Korea is just trying to suck up to the west perhaps to loosen restrictions and tensions. Once again, why is this a bad thing? No matter what way you view this development, it is almost certainly a step towards peace diplomatically.

I doubt very much that North Korea wants to get nuked much like we don’t. And while it may sound to some that I am defending North Korea, I am not. This diplomacy is beneficial to everyone involved, and when we’re discussing the possibility of nuclear war, “everyone involved” means everyone on the planet.

So, if you’re skeptical of this move from North Korea and Kim Jung Un, just take a step back, have a drink, and enjoy the Olympics. This could be the start of a peaceful and unified Korea.

Image from IB Times.

The Olympics and Korean Diplomacy

Andrew Lepore | USA

After a year of escalating tensions, beating war drums, and threats of “fire and fury”, most Americans have little confidence that the situation with North Korea will get better before it gets worse. Many Americans believe the chance for diplomacy on the peninsula is null. In fact, The University of Quinnipiac took a poll, showing 48% of Republicans and 17% of Democrats support a preemptive strike on the country.

Of course, this less than optimistic view about the North Korean Crisis is justifiable. In the last few years, negotiation and communication between Washington and Pyongyang have been virtually non-existent. However, recent revelations show an opportunity for de-escalation and steps toward a peaceful solution.

In a surprising New years announcement, Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea would like to participate in this year’s Winter Olympic Games, which will open in the South Korean Town of Pyeongchang next month. On national television, Kim stated:

“The Winter Olympic Games that will be held soon in the south will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korea nation, and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results.”

He also stated they will “take various steps, including the dispatch of a delegation.” For many, this is a step in the right direction for cooperation between the Koreas. Previously, North Korea has refused to participate in games hosted by South Korea.

Kim’s announcement was welcome news for the current Progressive South Korean administration and its leader, President Moon Jae-in. Prior to his election, Jae-in emphasized greater cooperation and a more stable relationship with North Korea. Following Kim’s New Year’s announcement, President Moon’s re-unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, extended an invitation to a formal meeting between representatives from the two nations to negotiate and discuss Olympic cooperation. It also would emphasize diplomatic ties between the nations.

The meeting commenced on January ninth at the shared border village of Panmunjom, and ended successfully.  After 12 hours of bilateral negotiation, the two warring nations reached several conclusions:

North Korea will send athletes and a high level delegation to participate in the Olympic festivities in February.

The nations agreed to resume temporary reunions of families divided by the war, but “resolve national problems on our own.”

Lastly, both countries agreed to follow up these bilateral negotiations to relieve military tensions on the peninsula.

Indubitably, the conclusions of this meeting were quite optimistic. The two nations achieved successful talks without the help of the U.S or any other outside entity. Better yet, they plan on continuing this trend.

President Trump recently voiced his support for this communication. In a recent announcement, he stated “I’d like to see them getting involved in the Olympics and maybe things go from there, So I’m behind that 100%.” However, others in his administration have not expressed optimism about North Korea’s participation in the games nor the recent bilateral talks between North and South Korea.

General Mattis on the day of the Bi-lateral negotiations stated in reference to the talks; “The sum total of the subjects that are going to be discussed today are the Olympics only.” He also reportedly swore not to let North Korea drive a wedge between the U.S alliance with South Korea. North Korea doesn’t seem to have accomplished that, although they obviously talked about a lot more than the Olympics in that 12 hour conference, judging by the conclusion of the negotiations.

Mattis is not alone in his disapproval. Other top members of President Trump’s cabinet, such as National Security Advisor General H.R McMaster, share this feeling. On January 23rd, McMaster spoke of the scenario in a press interview.

“Everyone recognises that we can’t… fall for what in the past has been a North Korean ploy to create the illusion of success and talks, and to use that to lock in the status quo as the new normal.” -H.R. McMaster

In the weeks following the bilateral negotiations, the two nations took more steps towards unification. For example, the divided Koreas have agreed to march under a single Korean “reunification flag” at the games. They have also formed a joint Korean Women’s Ice Hockey team. The two countries came to these agreements after meeting at the International Olympic Committee headquarters. Despite disapproval from some U.S. and Chinese officials, the two nations plan to publicly display solidarity.

Both governments intend to use the Olympics, which some have dubbed “The Peace Olympics”,  to improve inter-Korean ties. Will this year’s Winter Games be a positive turning point for diplomatic relations on the peninsula? Only time will tell.

(Image courteous of CNN)

North Korea Accepts Peace Negotiation

By Jackson Parker | USA

With the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang officials are meeting at the border of the Koreas to discuss areas of mutual interest. Reopening the shut communication channel for the first time since January of 2016.

“The North has accepted our proposal to meet at Panmunjeom Peace House [Korean Demilitarized Zone] on January 9,”

says South Korean unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-Hyun according to Yonhap News.

“The two sides decided to discuss working-level issues by exchanging documents,”

the meeting will be focused on issues

“related to the improvement of inter-Korean relations, including the PyeongChang Olympic Games.”

In Kim Jong-un’s new year speech to North Korea, he suggests that dialogue of reducing military tension is available. Seoul jumped on the opportunity and initiated the talk between neighbors.

Does anyone really believe that talks and dialouge would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!

President Trump tweets victoriously on Thursday.

After 2 years of silence between the two Koreas, this newfound communication could ease tensions between the North and the South. The PyeongChang Winter Olympics have created a topic for the Koreas to come together and solve their issues to create peace on their peninsula and the rest of the world.

What Should the U.S. do About North Korea?

By Michael Kay | USA

After the president’s tweets about North Korea on January 2nd, there has been much controversy as to how the president should handle the issue. Many believe that the provocative tweets may be an attempt to intimidate or outmaneuver Kim Jong Un, while others believe that it may simply be a president who has lost his mind. This article will ignore the latest set of tweets (and the potential political harms or gains that might follow as a result) and will analyze the two main courses that the United State’s foreign policy objective might follow.

The first potential course of action is, of course, a standoff. Should Kim Jong Un continue to oppose the United States and their interests, and threaten allies such as South Korea and Japan, it would only make sense for America to confront NK and this could prompt the war. The preamble to such an event would be simply following the current course that we are set upon. There may be hope in the prospect of NK going to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which could potentially lead to improved relations, but short of that, it seems as though Trump plans to isolate the dictator and play potentially the deadliest waiting game in the past decade.

The second (and hopefully more likely) option is to legitimize Kim Jong Un. What’s important to understand about many isolated, demonized dictators, is that one of their main objectives is for the world to recognize them, to legitimize them. We see this in cases such as with Vladimir Putin, with the Ukraine crisis, in which President Obama chose to start by imposing strict sanctions, then proceeding down the logical diplomatic path of establishing meetings with Putin, and gradually increasing sanctions. There was no effect whatsoever because dictators aren’t the ones directly hurt by economic sanctions. The greatest harm you might do to the dictator himself is to destabilize the entire country by causing starvation and unrest. Not only is this incredibly inhumane, it is also highly inefficient as it can take a very long time (for people to really turn on the dictator), and you run the risk that the dictator will simply ignore his people. However, after attempting this method for some time, the Obama administration decided to change its tactic. It proceeded to remove Russia from the G8 and to maintain the sanctions. Within a fairly short period of time, Russia agreed to come to the negotiating table, and agree to a ceasefire (during negotiations). The reason that this strategy was more successful is that rather than attempting to challenge the country on a whole, it challenged Putin’s legitimacy as a leader, by removing him from a body which signifies economic greatness.

The same logic can be used when examining some of Kim Jong Un’s decisions. For example, the constant nuclear tests serve a dual purpose. First, they threaten potential enemies which can be looked at as a system of preemptive deterrence. Second (and potentially more relevantly), they aim to prove that Kim Jong Un is powerful, and a “real” leader. However, we’ve already ostracized North Korea, so the strategy that may be required would be somewhat different, in that it would have to be a carrot on a stick approach. The US could offer North Korea a spot at the Olympics (of course the rest of the global community would have to agree), in exchange for a small concession, for example, the signing of an official end to the Korean War. This may seem meaningless, but its significance is that it means that the US would stop sending troops, and weapons to the Korean Peninsula. This, in turn, would make Kim Jong Un feel somewhat safer and would reduce the need for a nuclear deterrent, meaning the stoppage (or at least reduction in frequency) of the nuclear tests. Afterwards, the US could trade a stop at the WTO, development aid, or a trade agreement for further concessions such as an agreement to refrain from weaponizing Uranium. If Kim Jong Un feels as though he has a seat at the table, he is less likely to try and blow the table up. Giving Kim Jong Un the illusion of a spot at the table isn’t all that difficult, or costly, as the vast majority of the concessions that would be made by the US would be political ones, rather than monetary.

The current US strategy to counter North Korea is highly ineffective and very dangerous. Trump should change the tactic to one in which North Korea would eventually become assimilated into the global community. It will be an uphill battle, and a very dangerous one, but the alternative is far more dangerous, with no potential for a “happy” ending.