News / Asia

    Few S. Koreans Expect Improved Ties from N. Korean Soccer Visit

    FILE - North Korea's players celebrate after winning their women's Group G football match against Colombia at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Glasgow, Scotland Jul. 25, 2012.FILE - North Korea's players celebrate after winning their women's Group G football match against Colombia at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Glasgow, Scotland Jul. 25, 2012.
    x
    FILE - North Korea's players celebrate after winning their women's Group G football match against Colombia at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Glasgow, Scotland Jul. 25, 2012.
    FILE - North Korea's players celebrate after winning their women's Group G football match against Colombia at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Glasgow, Scotland Jul. 25, 2012.
    Reuters
    The North Korean women's soccer team arrives in Seoul for a regional tournament on Thursday just months after missile tests and threats of nuclear war pushed the peninsula close to conflict, and while some see the visit as a sign of easing tensions few are putting any faith in sports diplomacy.
     
    The four-nation Women's East Asian Cup, which also features China and Japan, sees South Korea face their bitter rivals from the North at Seoul's World Cup stadium on Sunday.
     
    The tournament takes place with the two Koreas engaged in rare talks aimed at restarting a jointly run industrial project in Kaesong, which closed in April as relations between Seoul and Pyongyang plummeted.
     
    The closure of the park, a money-spinner for the impoverished North, came after North Korea threatened strikes with nuclear and other missiles against the South and the United States after the United Nations imposed toughened sanctions on the North for its third nuclear test in February.
     
    While most other aspects of cross-border cooperation have been frozen, sport seems to be one area in which the North has found some common ground with its neighbor.
     
    Jeon Young-sun, professor at the Institute of the Humanities for Unification from Konkuk University, said some significance could be attached to the visit of the women's team but the relationship had to improve before progress could be made.
     
    “It [the visit] can be considered meaningful but in the middle of a lull in South-North Korea relations, politics are likely to impact sports, not the other way,” Jeon told Reuters.
     
    Sporting relations between the two Koreas have veered from cozy to ice cool in recent years, the high point being their joint march under a 'unification flag' at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
     
    The two Koreas also fielded a joint team for the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships but examples of such rapprochement are rare.
     
    At last year's London Olympics, the North Korean women's soccer team walked off the pitch in disgust after the South Korea flag was incorrectly displayed on a giant screen at Glasgow's Hampden Park stadium.
     
    The game was delayed for over an hour after images of the North Korea players were displayed beside the South Korea flag and London Olympics organizers had to issue an apology.
     
    'Bond of Sympathy'
     
    Soccer has been a familiar battleground for political tensions to be played out.
     
    The North did not even attempt to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, which was being co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, while matches between the two teams during 2010 World Cup qualifiers were a constant headache for the game's governing body FIFA.
     
    Games scheduled for Pyongyang had to be moved to Shanghai after the North refused to allow the South Korean national anthem to be played in Kim Il-sung Stadium, or for the South's flag to be flown.
     
    Kwak Moon-wan, the head of a North Korean defectors' football club in Seoul, said there was little hope that sport could be used as a vehicle to close the ideological gap.
     
    “It would be very significant if North Korea were to let South Koreans play on its soil and let them fly their flag and play their national anthem,” said Kwak, who fled the North and settled in Seoul in 2003. “But until that happens, sports can't be used for diplomacy between here and there.”
     
    While some have expressed hope that the two Olympic teams could march together when the Winter Games come to South Korea's Pyeongchang in 2018, a Korean Olympic Committee official told Reuters that possibility remained a distant one.
     
    “This is the first time North Korean athletes are visiting South Korea since inter-Korean relations went sour earlier this year, but unfortunately there is nothing going on as to forming a joint team or marching together at an international competition,” he said. “In order for that to happen, we first need to have a bond of sympathy or a feeling of brotherhood but given the current political standoff, it is unlikely.”
     
    The women's East Asian Cup wraps up on July 27. A men's tournament is being held at the same time but North Korea did not qualify for the finals.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Nielsen's, Sina Weibo Team Up for Closer Look at Chinese Social Media

    US-based rating agency reaches deal with China's Twitter-like service to gauge marketing effectiveness on platform which has more than 200 million users

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora