Koreas break the ice on the ice
● North and South Korea yesterday competed together for the first time at an Olympics as the first of 102 gold medals were decided against a fast-moving backdrop of diplomatic manoeuvring.
Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was among a high-level delegation in the stands as the joint Korean women’s ice hockey team took on Switzerland in their opening match.
The Games have triggered rapid reconciliation between the two Koreas, who are still technically at war.
In talks yesterday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was invited to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
There was joy for South Korea when short-track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun won the first gold for the hosts on day one, claiming the men’s 1 500m in front of a near-capacity crowd.
Earlier, Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won the first title of the Games in the women’s skiathlon, followed by Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, who triumphed in the women’s 7.5km sprint biathlon.
Five gold medals were up for grabs on day one, concluding with Kamil Stoch’s attempt to become the first back-to-back ski-jumping champion in the normal hill.
But most South Korean fans were fixated on the ice hockey, where the combined North and South women’s team appeared at a packed Kwandong hockey centre.
The two Koreas marched together at Friday’s opening ceremony but they have never before competed side-by-side at an Olympics.
‘Army of Beauties’
Among the crowd was a large number of North Korea’s all-female “Army of Beauties” cheer squad, who are known for their tightly choreographed moves and chants.
At a Games rife with political overtones, US Vice-President Mike Pence was watching.
Elsewhere, organisers probed a mysterious shutdown of the Games’ internal internet and wi-fi, which follows warnings of cyber attacks.
Internal internet and wi-fi systems crashed at about 7.15pm (9.15pm SA time) on Friday and were still not back to normal at midday yesterday, organisers said.
The outage follows warnings of malware phishing attacks targeting organisations that are working at the Olympics, and allegations of cyber attacks from Russia, which has denied involvement.
“We don’t want to speculate because we’re still trying to find out what the root source is,” said Nancy Park, spokesman for the Games organisers.
The shutdown started just before Friday’s opening ceremony, where Moon twice shook the hand of Kim Yo Jong, the first member of North Korea’s ruling dynasty to venture south since the 1950-53 Korean War. —