Friday, September 15|
Two Koreas, one flag in ceremonies
SYDNEY, Australia -- Divided for more than a half century by
the Cold War, athletes from North and South Korea marched together
behind one flag for the first time in the Olympics at the opening
ceremony for the Sydney Games.
The march Friday brought the capacity crowd of 110,000 at
Olympic Stadium to its feet and highlighted the International
Olympic Committee's efforts to promote peace through sports.
"It was a good show of unity to the world," said Chung
Eun-sun, a star basketball player who served as the South Korean
delegation's flag-bearer. The North's flag-bearer was Pak Jung
Chul, a judo coach.
"I was deeply moved," said Yun Sung Bom, North Korea's chief
delegate. "I hope this mood will continue."
Kim Young-ho, a South Korean fencer who was part of the combined
delegation of 180, said he felt "proud of being Korean" and said
he hoped it would lead to both Koreas agreeing to form a unified
team for the next Olympics.
That proved too much to ask just yet -- despite the joint entry,
the countries will still compete under separate flags in Sydney.
There are about 400 athletes and officials here from South Korea,
but only 61 from the North.
The small North Korean contingent reflects the impoverished
country's dire economic realities. The North has been relying on
outside aid since 1995 to feed its 22 million people.
Its athletes seemed to welcome the brief detente.
The Koreans mixed freely even before the march, arriving at the
stadium aboard the same buses and in identical uniforms -- dark blue
jackets and beige pants.
Even in unified uniforms, there was a difference: The North
Koreans all wore lapel pins with the image of their late Communist
leader, Kim Il Sung.
The Koreans drew thunderous applause from the capacity crowd
when they marched into the stadium, many holding hands together and
waving. IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and other dignitaries
Led by the two sides' national Olympic chiefs -- Kim Un-yong from
South Korea and Chang Ung from North Korea -- the athletes walked
behind a large unification flag, without their national flags and
names. The name of the countries was simply "Korea."
The unification flag bears a blue image of the Korean Peninsula
on a white background. The Koreas formed unified teams for the
world table-tennis and youth soccer championships in 1991, but have
never marched together at the Olympics.
In fact, the Korea march was the first among athletes of a
divided country since East and West Germany allowed their athletes
to walk side by side during the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.
The Koreas were partitioned into the communist North and the
pro-Western South in 1945. They fought a three-year war in the
early 1950s and never signed a peace treaty. They share the world's
most heavily armed border, with nearly 2 million troops deployed on
But their relations have warmed dramatically since their leaders
met for the first time in the North's capital, Pyongyang, in June
and agreed to work together for reconciliation and unification.
|Two Koreas marched under one flag in the opening ceremonies.|
Games open in front of largest crowd in Olympic history