PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province -- South and North Korean Olympic athletes marched together under a single flag at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games Friday in one of the most visible signs of thawing ties.
|Select athletes and Olympic officials of the two Koreas enter the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, host city of South Korea`s first Winter Games, at the Olympics` opening ceremony on Feb. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)|
Tens of thousands of spectators cheered as over 100 select athletes and officials of the two Koreas entered the pentagon-shaped PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.
The jubilant Olympians, wearing matching uniforms, joined hands and gleefully waved to the crowd as they walked behind the Korean Unification Flag, with the image of a blue Korean Peninsula.
The joint flagbearers were South Korean male bobsledder, Won Yun-jong, and North Korean female hockey player, Hwang Chung-gum.
They paraded to "Arirang," an iconic traditional folk number popular in both Koreas, instead of national anthems. The song was arranged with an eletronic-dance flavor.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other world leaders gave standing ovations during the joint march. North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jung, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, also applauded and waved at the Koreas' athletes.
It was the fourth joint Korean march at the Olympics, and the first since Torino 2006. The two Koreas held 10 joint marches at opening events for international sporting events.
Both Koreas are fielding their largest Winter Olympics delegations ever to PyeongChang: the South with 219 athletes and officials and the North with 46.
The North will compete in three sports and five disciplines -- women's hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing. The Koreas have formed a joint women's hockey team, the first unified Korean team at any Olympic Games.
The joint march resulted from monthlong negotiations between the two countries and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the North's last-minute decision to participate in the games. North Korea did not participate in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.
The Koreas are technically at war because the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)