Koreas break the ice on the ice

Sunday Times - - Sport | Soccer -

● 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. —

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