Unified Korea team to jointly enter opening ceremonies under Korean Peninsula flag

Posted on : 2018-01-22 16:53 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Culture Minister reassures public that the Taeguekgi flag will be featured prominently at Olympics venues as symbol of the host country
The South and North Korean athletic delegations make their first unified joint entrance at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. (Photo Pool)
The South and North Korean athletic delegations make their first unified joint entrance at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. (Photo Pool)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Jan. 20 that the country of the South and North Korean athletes entering jointly at the Pyeongchang Olympics would be listed as “Korea,” while the three-letter country code for the unified women’s hockey team would be “COR.”

“During the joint entrance at the opening ceremony, the athletes will have Korean Peninsula flags on their chests and ‘Korea’ written on the back of their uniforms,” explained Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan at a press conference soon after his arrival at Incheon Airport on Jan. 21.

Do also responded to concerns that the Pyeongchang event may be first Olympic Games where the flag of the host country (South Korea’s Taegeukgi) does not make an appearance.

“Once the opening ceremony begins, there will first be a large Taegeukgi flag, and a chorus will sing the [South Korean] national anthem,” he said.

“The large Taegeukgi will be displayed throughout the Olympics,” he added.

The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee plans to make the necessary adjustments to the athletes’ uniforms.

Neither South or North Korea will be allowed to use terminology favoring either side in events at the Olympics with a “unified team” character. The name chosen for athletes on both sides will be “Korea,” which is included in the official international names of both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The agreement was previously reached at the fourth round of inter-Korean athletic talks in 1989 during discussions on a unified team for the Asian Games in Beijing the following year. During the discussions, the North Korean side insisted on the country being referred to as “Koryo,” while the South Korean side wanted the name “Hannara.” After they eventually agreed upon “Korea,” the name was used without any major objections between the fielding of a unified table tennis team in 1991 and the two sides’ joint entrance at the 2007 Asian Games in Changchun.

In the case of the country code, a separate neutral name is needed, as South Korea uses “KOR” while North Korea uses “DPRK.” The IOC selected “COR” based on the first three letters of the name for Korea in Romance-language speaking countries such as France, Spain, and Italy.

This would not be the first time South Korea competes under the “COR” country code. At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, it used the initials in accordance with host country Italy’s spelling conventions. A controversy also arose ahead of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich when South Korea’s code of “KOR” was abruptly changed to “COR” in response to Pyongyang’s objections that the original “could make it appear as though it is the only ‘Korea.’”

By Hong Seok-jae, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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