HomeKorean AmericanKorean Americans Pooh Pooh Sentiments of North-South Korean Olympic Unity

Korean Americans Pooh Pooh Sentiments of North-South Korean Olympic Unity

Unification Flag of Korea
Unification Flag of Korea

Pyeongchang, South Korea is hosting the XXIII Winter Olympic Games, yet the South Korean flag will not be flown during the opening ceremony. Instead both North and South Korea will march under the Unification flag of Korea.   Displays of “false unity” between South Korea and North Korea have caused Korean Americans to speak out.

For the first time, North Korean women’s hockey team will compete jointly with the South Korean national team, according to the  The New York Times. In addition, South Korean figure skater, Alex Kam, posted a selfie with North Korean skater Kim Ju Sik, reports the Houston Chronicle.

“(The Olympics is) usually a source of national pride, and this is one of those unique Olympics that the host nation is actually sharing the limelight with another country,” said David Shin, president-elect of the Korean American Association of Houston, reports KHOU.

Such dissatisfaction is not shared by the South Korean government.

 

Sentiments of Korean unity were echoed by the consul general of the Republic of Korea in Houston, Hyung Gil Kim, reports Chron. “Our goal is to make the Pyeongchang Olympics an ‘Olympics of Peace.’ Despite heightened tensions, the recent reopening of inter-Korean dialogues will encourage (a) thaw in relations between the two Koreas,” Kim said in a statement. “South and North Korea started their first official high-level talks in two years and, in a symbolic breakthrough, (the) two Koreas agreed to form their first joint Olympic team and have their athletes march together under one unified flag for the first time in 11 years during the opening ceremony.”

However, the two Koreas are technically still at war, and Korean Americans, such as members of the Korean American Society of Houston, hope to shed light on this issue and deconstruct sentiments of false unity.

About 100 South Koreans participated in an hour long protest in Haden Park located in Houston’s Korea Town on Wednesday. Of the 2 million people of Korean heritage in the U.S., about 1 in 20, or 90,000, reside in Texas, reports Chron.

Demonstrators protested the use of a “Unification flag” and Korean Peninsula folk songs at the upcoming opening ceremony, advocating instead for a display of the South Korean flag and national anthem, reports The Houston Chronicle.

“This is our Olympics. We should be proud of the Korean flag and we should sing the Korean anthem,” Helen Chang, former president of the Korean American Association of Houston and one of the speakers at the rally, expressed to The Houston Chronicle.  “We are doing this today because tomorrow, North Korea is exhibiting their militant power. What is this? This is not peace.”

Not only does the Unification flag have a long history with the Koreas, it has also come under the scrutiny of the Japanese government due to its inclusion of Japan’s sovereign Takeshima islets in its design, reports The Japan Times

As speakers roused the Houston crowd with booming words in Korean, protesters waved South Korean and American flags. A charcoal fire was ignited, and rally leaders beheaded the cardboard effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before throwing it into a charcoal fire.

“North Korea is our enemy,” Chang expressed to The Houston Chronicle. “This is most ridiculous. … Lots of people in Korea and lots of people in America – Korean Americans – are upset.”

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