|North Korea at the
2018 Winter Olympics
|NOC||Olympic Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea|
|in Pyeongchang, South Korea
February 9–25, 2018
|Competitors||22 in 5 sports|
|Winter Olympics appearances (overview)|
North Korea will compete in 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Two figure skaters, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, were qualified for the Games, but the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) failed to enter them by the 30 October deadline. On 9 January 2018, North Korea agreed in negotiations with South Korea to send the qualified athletes and a delegation for the Winter Olympics.
In January 2018, following inter-governmental talks, the teams representing North Korea and South Korea will enter the Opening Ceremony marching under the Korean Unification Flag, while in women's ice hockey there will be a single united Korean squad.
The following is the list of number of competitors participating in the North Korean delegation per sport.
|Short track speed skating||2||0||2|
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wanted to have North Korean sportspersons at the Games. In order to increase their chances of qualification, the IOC offered to support them with equipment, accommodation, and travel to qualification events.
North Korean short track speed skaters and cross-country skiers did not qualify for the Games. A wild card arrangement was considered for the eventuality that no North Korean athlete would have qualified.
The host nation South Korea had proposed a unified team of the two Koreas at the Games. The team would participate at least in the women's ice hockey event and possibly more disciplines. North Korea refused this in June 2017 on the grounds of time constraints.
Similarly, South Korea had suggested that North Korea could co-host some of the skiing events at the Masikryong Ski Resort. This suggestion came after Moon Jae-in was elected President of South Korea in 2017. Earlier in December 2014, the organizers had denied the possibility of sharing any part of their bid with the North. Like the unified team proposal, the new co-hosting proposal was refused by the North. North Korea, however, supported South Korea's Olympic bid for the 2018 games. This was unlike in 1988, when North Korea was willing to co-host the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, but once those plans failed, it ended up boycotting the Games and bombing Korean Air Flight 858 in what is believed to be an attempt to sabotage the Games.
Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik were qualified to the Games on 29 September 2017 at the 2017 CS Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany. Their successful free skating program was to the tune of "Je ne suis qu'une chanson" by Ginette Reno and their short program on the day before was to the music of The Beatles. They took one of the five available qualification spots for pair skaters at the event, as they were expected beforehand.
The International Skating Union confirmed Ryom and Kim's qualification, but the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) had to approve their participation, which Chang Ung, a North Korean member of the IOC, said he found likely. "I am quite sure that politics is one thing and Olympics is another thing. So I don't see any big problem for the Pyeongchang Olympics", he has said. Despite this, the national Olympic committee failed to accept the two athletes by the deadline of 30 October.
Because the North Korean national Olympic committee failed to enter the only qualified athletes to the Games, its participation remained uncertain. The North Korean spot went to the runners up, Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet representing Japan. They needed to accept the spot by 21 December, which did not happen. North Korea could still request its quota to be confirmed, in which case the IOC would deliberate on the matter. "[W]e would of course be flexible if they expressed a desire to come", an IOC spokesperson has said. A wild card option remains on the table.
Organizers of the games did not expect the final decision on participation to be made until the very last opportunity, and Moon Jae-in had given North Korea the chance to decide on participation at any time before the Games begin.
The impasse was broken off when North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un signaled the possibility to send athletes to the Games after all in his New Year's speech for 2018, saying "North Korea's participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility". The announcement was followed by South Korean agreement to participate in the first high-level talks with the North since December 2015. The talks were scheduled for 9 January 2018. North Korea is also prepared to talk to the IOC that week. In preparation for the North–South talks, the two countries restored the Seoul–Pyongyang hotline, which had been inactive for almost two years, and exchanged related documents via fax. After these developments, North Korea's IOC member Chang Ung said that the participation of North Korean figure skaters again looked likely. The possibility of North Korean participation has stirred up talk about a possible Olympic boycott by the United States, after the administration of President Donald Trump, who has been at loggerheads with Kim Jong-un, has issued mixed messages. After discussions on 9 January 2018, North Korea announced they will be sending athletes to compete along with a delegation to attend the Winter Olympics.
Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula in 2017, North Korean participation in the Games attracted "geopolitical urgency". Olympic officials, South Korean politicians, and international athletes widely think that the Games will be safer if North Korea participates.
As a gesture of peace, South Korea will allow North Korean athletes to exceptionally pass through the Korean Demilitarized Zone by road, normally cut off from all traffic. Supporters will be allowed to travel by ship.
|Choe Un-song||500 m|
|Jong Kwang-bom||1500 m|