Two Koreas, One Olympic Team


Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Former ice hockey player and coach Sarah Murray oversees the hockey game at the practice Olympics match against Sweden.

Priscilla Baek and Julia Kim

North and South Korea have decided to put politics aside and create the first-ever multi-country Olympic women’s hockey team under a unified name of Korea (COR) on Jan. 18. With both North and South Korean athletes under the new blue and white flag, the hockey team faces challenges of both athleticism and cultural tension going into the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“Fielding a unified team is very meaningful — the biggest fruit that can come from the Pyeongchang Olympics is a message of peace between the Koreas,” Sogang University sports education professor Yongchul Chung said in an interview with NY times. “It’s not like the players wouldn’t understand the historic significance of what they are involved in.”

Though news that surrounds Korea’s unified team is mostly political, head coach Sarah Murray, who will be leading and training the athletes, is trying to focus on the real reason for the Olympics.

“Our team being put together was a political statement, but now that the team is together, we are just one team,” Murray said in an interview with OC Register. “Now it is hockey, and we are here to compete. It is not an issue on our team. Our whole team is going to walk in the opening ceremony…I think it is important for our team to walk together and show we are unified.”

Although the team lost 8-0 to Switzerland on Feb. 10, an unexpected result came from this loss: a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. America’s International Olympic Committee Executive Board member, Angela Ruggiero, recommended the team for the honorary prize on Feb. 11. The recommendation is in its early stages as Ruggiero will begin to ask others to nominate the joint Korean team.

“I would love the team to get the Nobel Peace Prize…something that is recognizing the sacrifice they made to adjusting their competitions,” Ruggiero said in an interview with Reuters. “As someone who competed in four Olympics and knows it isn’t about you, your team, or your country, I saw the power of what it did last night.”