PEACE THROUGH ZAMBONI

The first photos of North and South Koreas’ unified Olympic hockey team

North Korean athletes crossed the border into South Korea yesterday, one of the first steps in an experiment of sports diplomacy that will play out on live television in a few weeks.

Twelve players will join the South Korean women’s hockey team at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, which begins in less than two weeks. An idea proposed by the South, unifying the two countries’ teams was an unexpected move, at a time of heightened nuclear tensions.

While the unified team makes for pleasant photo-ops of players exchanging flowers and practicing together, experts doubt that cooperation on the ice signifies a more meaningful thaw military, political or economic relations.

Max Kim reports in The Atlantic:

All in all, the joint team could put South Korea on precarious political footing. While sports can act as a diplomatic catalyst, “they cannot alter the fundamental political calculus,” Kim Sung Han, the former senior South Korean diplomat, said. “The best-case scenario would be this leading to high-level summit talks … multilateral dialogue for the denuclearization of North Korea. But I’m pessimistic.”

North Korean players were photographed crossing the border yesterday, Jan. 25, and later today were seen in practice.

North Korea's women ice hockey athletes arrive at the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju
North Korea’s women ice hockey athletes arrive at the South’s CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea on Jan. 25. (Reuters/Yonhap/Pool)
North Korean women's ice hockey team arrive to South Korea
North Korean women’s ice hockey players arrive at the South Korea’s national training center in Jincheon, South Korea on Jan. 25. (EPA/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool)
Sarah Murray, head coach of the combined women's ice hockey team is seen as North Korean women's ice hockey players arrive at the South Korea's national training center on January 25, 2018 in Jincheon
Sarah Murray (center), head coach of the combined women’s ice hockey team is seen as North Korean women’s ice hockey players arrive at the South Korea’s national training center on Jan. 25 in Jincheon. (Reuters/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool)
North and South Korea women's ice hockey athletes stand in a line at a dining hall at the Jincheon National Training Centre in Jincheon
North and South Korea women’s ice hockey athletes stand in a line at a dining hall at the Jincheon National Training Centre in Jincheon on Jan. 25. (The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism/Yonhap via Reuters)
South Korea Koreas Tensions
South Korean women’s hockey team players, right, talk with North Korean women’s ice hockey team players, left, at the South Korea’s national training center in Jincheon on Jan. 25. (South Korea Unification Ministry via AP)
South Korea Koreas Tensions
South Korea and North Korea women’s ice hockey team players meet at the South Korea’s national training center in Jincheon on Jan. 25.
North Korean Women's ice hockey Olympic team in South Korea
North Korean women’s ice hockey players during a training session at the Jincheon national training center in Jincheon, South Korea on Jan. 26. (Joint Government Support Corps via EPA)
South Korea Koreas Tensions
North Korean women’s ice hockey players train with South Korea women’s hockey team head coach Sarah Murray, center, during the training at the South Korea’s national training center in Jincheon. (South Korea Joint Government Support Corps via AP)
South Korea Koreas Tensions
A South Korean coach talks to North Korean women’s ice hockey players during the training at the South Korea’s national training center in Jincheon on Jan. 26. (South Korea Joint Government Support Corps via AP)
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