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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > May-18 > BEST OF ENEMIES

BEST OF ENEMIES

Relations between North and South Korea are thawing, but young southerners may ensure Pyongyang is kept out in the cold
Team Korea—the combined north and south ice hockey team—prepare to face Sweden at the Winter Olympics
© JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES

It sounded like a brilliant idea. What better way to send a message of unity at the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, than to field a joint women’s hockey team made up of Korean athletes from both sides of the demilitarised zone (DMZ)?

Fielding a joint team at the Olympics has been a goal for both Koreas since their first sporting experiment in 1991, a North- South women’s table tennis duo who won a gold medal at the World Championships with an upset victory over the Chinese. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the two nations competed separately but took part in the opening ceremony together, marching into the stadium under a unified Korea flag to a thunderous standing ovation. So the idea of a common Korean sporting endeavour has quite a pedigree, and yet political tensions had always restricted how far the collaboration could go.

This year, however, when a flurry of sporting diplomacy between North and South gained pace in the weeks before the Games, the government in Seoul made an executive decision: space for North Korean players would be made in the women’s ice hockey team. After all, reunification of the two nations has been official policy in South Korea since the peninsula split in two some seven decades ago. Here at last, they said, was a dream team for peace.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s May issue: More than a dozen writers critique the current state of economics, suggesting there are still lessons to learn more than a decade on from the financial crash. Howard Reed writes that the ideas we hold about the way economics works need to be ripped up. Ten of the world’s best living economists explain what, in their view, is the single most important lesson economics still has to learn, and Linda Yueh suggests what three of the past masters would think about economics today. Elsewhere in the issue: Vernon Bogdanor outlines why Brexit could cause a constitutional crisis in Britain; Jean H Lee explains why young South Koreans don’t want their country to reunify with their Northern neighbours; Sian Norris writes about the coming battle over abortion and shows where the UK ranks among its European peers; and Sonia Purnell profiles Jacob Rees-Mogg.