As the 2018 Olympics will help to unite the Korean Peninsula

The main sport event of the winter of 2018 is about 8 months. However, in South Korea now every step of the tourists waiting for the mascots of the Olympics and Paralympics in Pyeongchang, the white tiger, Shoran and Himalayan black bear, Panjabi. The country is so long waited for your Olympic games, I started to prepare for it even before the official appointment as the capital of the Pyeongchang games, and at the moment the majority of sports objects already ready to start. With this event the Koreans is associated with many hopes: not just a sporting victory, but also the warming of relations with the DPRK, and the fact that far Eastern country could become closer all over the world.

photo: Love Glazunov

Colored ribbons hang in a sign of the desire for reunification of North and South Korea.

Game of passion

“Our region — such as Siberia — smiling Governor of Gangwon province Choi Munson — a lot of land but few people.” Despite the fact that the future of competition threaten to violate the quiet and the rhythm of life, Gangwon-do, 92% of residents support the Olympics. They believe there’s a sports festival in their region will receive an incentive for development. After all, his main problem is a mountain landscape and, as a consequence, inaccessibility, lack of infrastructure.

And yet the province, which will be competitions, famous real, cold, almost Siberian winter. According to the Governor, in the winter months the average temperature here is kept at -13 degrees Celsius, but can sometimes drop to -20. So the Olympics will be used natural snow, although the vagaries of nature, the region is prepared. If the temperature in Pyeongchang will rise above zero, come to the aid of the warehouse with natural snow and the production of its artificial counterpart.

When choosing Olympic mascots Koreans remembered the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Then the symbol of the competition was the tiger, Hodori. Therefore, the current mascot of the games, too, chose the striped predator, but this time white. His name Sharan means “tiger is back”. The mascot of the Paralympics was the Asiatic black bear, Panjabi. And if the Russian bear is associated with strength and prowess, his Eastern relative symbolizes the patience and trust.

Compared with the Sochi winter games, Pyeongchang 2018 think the top savings. According to representatives of the Committee for the Winter Olympic games, Korea was spent on the construction of sports facilities and infrastructure for approximately $1.3 billion — five times smaller than Russia at Sochi 2014.

“The distinctive features of our Olympics compactness and punctuality,” said the Vice-President of the Committee for the preparation of the Olympic Winter games in Pyeongchang, Kim Ki-Hong. — Pyeongchang-gun is not a very big city compared to Vancouver or Sochi. And although he cannot boast of so well-developed infrastructure in big cities, but from the main stadium you can get to any sports facility in 30 minutes.” At the same time from Seoul to Canina — an hour and ten minutes away, while Pyeongchang 58 minutes. From the international airport in Incheon also will run a direct train to the Olympic capital.

And what about the housing of guests of the Olympics better hurry up in advance. Pyeongchang is a small town only 35 000 inhabitants, so not physically able to accommodate everyone. Everyone else will have to reserve hotels in nearby Gangneung or even in Seoul.

As in Sochi, in the Olympics 2018 will be two clusters — coastal and mountain in Gangneung to Pyeongchang. There are a total of 12 sports facilities, six of which are new. Four of those six have already been built, the other two, according to Kim Ki-Hun, ready to 80-90%. And no wonder: South Korea began to prepare for the games before the choice of the capital and has already managed to test the new stadiums for competitions at various levels. The status of the Olympic capital Pyeongchang received only from the third attempt: first conceded a measly three votes to Vancouver, and then four voices of Sochi. Still, the Koreans decided to try a third time. This requires a real passion for the sport. That is why the word “passion” became the motto of the Olympic games-2018.

The second word is “United” as it hints at the fact that the Olympiad is designed to connect generations, countries and continents. For the divided Korean Peninsula is the motto is particularly relevant.

Security issues

The President of South Korea, moon Jae In at the opening of world championship Taekwondo in Muju also urged both Koreas to create a unified team at the Olympics in 2018, and the Minister of sport of the Republic previously offered to hold part of the competition on the territory of the DPRK. However, the representative of Pyongyang in the International Olympic Committee Cheng University strongly rejected the proposal for the formation of a team called the issue “closed”. But the delegation from North Korea has arrived on the Taekwondo championship, which gives us some hope.

“With regard to the resolution of the problem between the South and the North, one of the visions of the Olympics is the Olympics of the world. We wanted to give an opportunity for both countries to cooperate more closely through the sport. And we believe that this event could make the Peninsula more peaceful and calm,” — said General Director of Department of cooperation in the field of sports, Ministry of culture, sports and tourism of South Korea Chan Ben Keck. — North Korea stated that she has no reason not to participate in the Olympics. We interpret this as an intention to participate.”

And yet the constant missile launches and nuclear tests, Pyongyang can not inspire fear. The Northern part of the Olympic Gangwon province is located on the territory of the DPRK, and from the border between the two Koreas to Seoul is only about 20 kilometers.

“In our province has never been terrorist acts. However, now we have a variety of anti-terrorist exercises, in addition, in the province stationed 200,000 troops,” says the Gangwon — do Governor Choi Munson. However, the main hope of South Korea holds the integrity of its Northern neighbor. Since athletes from North Korea will participate in the competition, to set up military provocations they have no meaning. At least you can believe it: a fragile truce on the Korean Peninsula held more than 60 years.

And so fragile is the truce as it seems? Tours in the southern part of the demilitarized zone on the border between the two Koreas has long put on stream. Tourists don’t even tickle, and just look at the most closed country in the world, even in binoculars, at least one eye. However, on the way to the border you will be asked to sign an agreement stating that the organizers of the trip are not responsible for your life. But the opportunity to go to the light it is here, in one of the most protected areas of the world, I can not believe. And North Korea here it is, hand. Can do a selfie. And most of the passengers of tourist buses is not afraid to part with life, and looking forward to the cars Facebook likes. However, most of them foreigners. Koreans are not eager to reopen an old wound.

Yes, not all South Koreans want to unite with its Northern neighbor, at least in the near future. Korean youth born and raised in a country that is divided and feels good on the “right” half. In addition, if the Association ever held, southerners for some time will have to pull the burden of the underdeveloped North. However, the idea of a policy “solar heat”, providing for the rapprochement with the DPRK, with the coming to power of President moon Jae Ina again become relevant.

Someone warm “solar heat”

According to the Director of the division of the unification policy of the Ministry of unification Dream GI Yeong, the implementation of this direction will depend on the its willingness of North Korea to cooperate. If Pyongyang cooperates, Seoul plans to improve the state of human rights in the DPRK, to step up trade and economic cooperation (now all trade between the countries has been stopped), to reopen the industrial zone of Kaesong, through which the North Korean workers could work for South Korean enterprises. If not, it remains only to increase pressure through sanctions. At least now South Korea, the DPRK offers an alternative to the sanctions policy: shows a carrot, but keeps the whip ready.

But yet that Pyongyang did not react to the outstretched branch. When the idea of a policy “solar heat” first arose at the turn of XX and XXI centuries, North Korea was weakened by hunger and failures of economic policy of Kim Jong Il. With the coming to power of his son Kim Jong-UN’s regime has increased its military power and began to introduce elements of market economy (based on satellite imagery, North Korea is already operating 400 markets). This has improved the financial situation of the country, but tractability of its leaders is not exactly added. Therefore, the Ministry of unification avoid talking about “solar” policy. Her time is gone, and now the rapprochement with North Korea if it does, it does under other conditions.

Meanwhile, in the age of globalization and the proliferation of mobile phones (in North Korea is already 3 million mobile users), Pyongyang is becoming increasingly difficult to hide from the public what is happening in other countries. Perhaps many North Koreans dream to defect to the South, but only a few dare. Now in South Korea there are about 30 000 refugees from the North. Most of them fled from famine in the 90-ies of the last century. Since then, the regime managed to plug the gaps in the iron curtain, and the food situation has improved, but from time to time any of the citizens of North Korea still manages to escape through China.

Seoul does not throw the compatriots in the lurch: for refugees in the Ministry of unification has developed a special 12-week training program and subsidy system. Money defectors are given only for the first time, then most of them are arranged to work on the enterprise.

Anyway, in 2018, the North Korean athletes will appear quite legitimate chance to go to the South. The possibility, incidentally, is very rare — the last South Korean Olympics was held in 1988 in Seoul, and North Korea boycotted it.

ESports is serious

The Ministry of sports of Korea, of course, lay the main reliable on the short track. We all remember how offended home Korean Viktor Ahn flashed on the Sochi Olympics and won the gold for Russia in this sport. By the way, people are not offended by the athlete and genuinely happy with each victory. In whatever country An did not speak, he is still a Korean.

But in Korea there is another sport that is guaranteed would bring the country a gold medal… if there was Olympic. We are talking about eSports professional game in computer game in which the Korean team are among the best. Seoul is home to professional Association of players in which the games are extremely serious.

According to General Secretary “of the Korean Association of electronic sports” man su Cho, only 0.1% of all players in computer games can become professionals. You need to train every day for 12-13 hours in the next 3-4 years just to get the opportunity to participate in eSports tournaments.

Most professional computer games require quick reactions to changing conditions and strategic mindset. In a sense, it’s like a game of chess on speed. Therefore, from the “masters of the mouse and keyboard” requires a combination of speed of reaction and accuracy of movements.

The reward for a long workout will not only nationwide fame, but also rather big fees. Unlike traditional sporting events, the winners of virtual combat get a real cash reward. In addition, many Korean companies, especially those related to electronics manufacturing, has its own eSports team, members of which receive a decent salary. Players don’t stop and make videos on the Internet. As a result, the gamers in Korea are the highest paid athletes and get even more than baseball stars: recognized professionals — about $400,000 a year, and some gaming celebrities — $2-3 million

But for all in the world of sports you have to pay. Like any athletes, Pro gamers have their occupational diseases. For example, the so-called “tunnel syndrome” — a neurological disease of the wrist, because of which many players, even had surgery. It is accompanied by problems with the spine and eyesight of the effects of daily 12-hour communication with the computer. At some point in the eSports Association understood that can lose the best gamers, and introduced in the training program, exercises that help to avoid health problems.

Finally, specify man su Cho playful question: “do you Believe that someday eSports will be included in the program of Olympic games?” And wonder the seriousness of the answer: “ESports is already included in Asian games program 2022 in Hangzhou. Of course, our long-term goal is the inclusion of this discipline in the Olympic programme. The IOC constantly explores the prevalence of different types of sports. The Olympics is a serious problem: they are losing the youth audience. Popular among young people in eSports just might solve the problem, and we believe that soon the IOC will pay attention to us.” So while the rest of the country look at computer games as entertainment for teenagers in Korea is already raising the Olympic reserve.

Without Russia not interested

Of course, for Russia Olympics in Pyeongchang could not take place. The IOC had long decided the question of admission of Russian athletes at competitions, while in April the President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov showed reporters an official invitation from the IOC at the XXIII winter Games. In South Korea I assure that for its part did everything possible to Russia went to Pyeongchang.

“I cannot imagine a winter Olympics without Russia, — says Vice-President of Committee on preparation of the Winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang, Kim Ki-Hong. — After the doping scandal Russia has shown great progress in its anti-doping campaign. We sincerely hope that Russia will participate, because without it the game will be boring”.

Korea generally tends to become closer to Russia. “Two years ago, I spent a big project called “Eurasian friendship Express”. 300 people marched from Seoul, boarded the train in Vladivostok and drove down to Berlin. It took three weeks, — the Director of Department of Europe the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Susak lim — Every time we stayed in the Russian cities, representatives of the city we were very warmly welcomed. We held this event for one reason only: to show that if we can ever achieve the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula, Koreans will be able to one day take the train and ride it to Europe. So the Russians will have a possibility to arrive by train in Korea, which is the end of Eurasia”.

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