19 February 2018

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02/12/2018 KOREA

PyeongChang Olympics: Taekwondo for peace

About 70 athletes from both Koreas took part in a taekwondo performance today. A North Korean orchestra gave a concert before an audience that included the South Korean president and a North Korean delegation. The last song of the soirée embodied the desire for reunification, sung by North Korean singers and a South Korean K-pop star. Post-Olympic diplomacy now begins following the departure of the North Korean delegation.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taekwondo teams from South and North Korea took part in a joint performance of both countries’ national sport.

The event was held today in Seoul City Hall to celebrate the PyeongChang Olympics, with the participation of almost 70 athletes from the North and the South (pictures 1 and 2).

The performance began with the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) team. A large banner that read "One World, One Taekwondo" descended from the top when they broke a pine board to the beat of a rock-version of the traditional Korean song "Arirang".

The North's team captivated the audience by demonstrating its skills by smashing a 10-cm thick pine board. Some female athletes from the North surprised the audience by smashing ten pine boards in a row.

An emotional International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) president Ri Yong-son, from North Korea, said that “The root of taekwondo is one.”

The same emotions could be read on the face of Kim Yong-nam (picture 3), president of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea, during the concert by North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra, two days ago in the Haeoreum Hall at the National Theatre of Korea in Seoul, one of the last events the North Korean delegation attended before going home.

Among those in attendance were South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife, seated next to Kim Yong-nam and Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong.

‘Our Wish’, a song released in 1947 but written during Japan’s colonial rule over Korea, caught the attention of South Korean media.

The song’s original lyrics, “Our wish is independence”, were revised to the current version, “Our wish is unification”, in 1948.  

World famous K-pop star Seohyun sang with the North Korean performers, holding hands with one, hugging at the end (picture 4) as the audience gave them a standing ovation.

About 1,500 people attended the performance, 1,000 of whom were ordinary citizens chosen by lottery. Others were special guests invited by the government.

As the North Korean delegation left last night, post-Olympic diplomacy is set to start, especially after Kim Jong-un's invitation to President Moon to visit Pyongyang.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said she will carry out her obligations as the diplomatic chief with "active" and "creative" vision and ways of thinking.

According to experts, it is likely that Seoul will decide to send a special envoy to Pyongyang.

Today, North Korean daily Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling party, said that the delegation's visit was "an important occasion in improving relations between North and South Korea, and setting up an environment for peace on the Korean Peninsula".

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