Rep. Chung Dong-young, an executive member of the opposition Democratic Party, raised the issue of co-hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics with North Korea and DP Chair Sohn Hak-kyu endorsed it in a top-level meeting Monday at Alpensia Resort, which will be the main venue of the Games seven years later. “We should consider it seriously and earnestly,” he said.
The party’s rank-and-file loyalists apparently have a more realistic view: An opinion poll confirmed that 63.6 percent of them are against the idea. The rate was a little lower than the overall 73.3 percent rejection among general citizens.
The leaders of the leftist party themselves must know that the International Olympic Committee awarded the Winter Olympics to the city of PyeongChang, not to the country of Korea. Even if both South and North Korea would want it, it goes against the decision of the IOC in Durban, South Africa, last Wednesday.
Members of the Korean bidding committee remembered that their two previous failures pertained in part to their mistaken emphasis on Korea’s division and frequent mentioning of the Olympics’ effect of promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Appeals in this direction had little impact on IOC members, who were pursuing a separation of politics and sports.
If the Korean bidding committee said anything about co-hosting the Winter Olympics with North Korea in its Durban presentation, the result could have been different. Instead, Korean presenters stressed the importance of expanding winter sports in Asia, which has had only two Winter Games in Olympic history.
The Democratic Party has found the need to include the Winter Olympics in its political agenda. It should make different approaches to different issues to portray itself as an alternative political force ready to take power through next elections.
If the DP would like to use the Olympic issue for its political campaigns, it may be recommended that they form and send a special delegation to North Korea to persuade Pyongyang leaders not to contemplate boycotting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games as it did the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Or it could join with other parties and civic groups in a more justifiable and feasible drive to form a single inter-Korean team for future Olympic Games, including the PyeongChang event.