Women’s Ice Hockey Joint Team - A Pitiful Sacrifice?
Women’s Ice Hockey Joint Team - A Pitiful Sacrifice?
  • Reporter Lee Ha-jun
  • 승인 2018.02.09 12:21
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▲ Women's ice hockey joint team

The opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics is just around the corner, and at this point, the Republic of Korea (S. Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (N. Korea) has made an agreement to march in together at the opening ceremony, using the Korean peninsula flag. Also, in women’s ice hockey, 23 S. Korean players and 12 N. Korean players will form one team, the first-ever joint Korean Olympic team. There were three joint marches in the previous Olympics, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athena, and the 2006 Torino Olympics, but a joint team in the Olympics is unprecedented.
On Jan. 17, S. Korea and N. Korea made an agreement for the joint march, and on Jan. 20, representatives from both Koreas and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had a meeting and approved the joint march. The joint team project for women’s ice hockey was also approved in this meeting. However, there are some serious issues concerning this joint team situation.
The first problem brought up was about fairness. The women’s ice hockey entry number participants was originally 23, but for the joint team, the entry participant number has climbed to 35. The coach has to choose 22 players to play in each game, and the committee has forced the coach to select at least three N. Korean players for each game. Consequently, three S. Korean players will lose their chance to play in each game for an unreasonable cause.
Secondly, the joint team players will be entering the game as KOREA, but the abbreviation became COR, because KOR was used originally for S. Korea. COR will also be used for the joint march during the opening and closing ceremonies. The players’ country flag has been replaced and additionally, the national anthem will be replaced with the Korean traditional song ‘Arirang’. People are confused why the host country cannot use their national anthem and flag, even considering the special circumstances.
The ‘period’ was also pointed out as a huge problem. The Olympics is right around the corner, and enforcing these types of changes will inevitably cause confusion, especially in ice hockey. Players are worried that adding new players before the games will aggravate the team’s coordination.
The general public has started to turn their back against the government’s decision regarding these changes. A petition to Cheong Wa Dae for ‘opposing joint team for women’s ice hockey team’ has gathered 54,532 people’s signature as of Jan. 25, and if the petition number reaches 200,000, the government has to give an answer about this issue. A study about the public’s recognition has shown that 58.7% people oppose the joint team in women’s ice hockey and 37.7% people agree. Many people think that making a joint team is taking away the chances of players that worked hard for four years. Also, there are some that criticize the government, believing that they are using the Olympics and the ice hockey team for political reasons. The IOC’s stance is that this can be a powerful message of peace sent out to the world. We will have to consider whether or not the ice hockey team just became a pitiful sacrifice.