Korean Gymnasts’ Selfie at Rio Olympics Makes Headlines
For a long time, successful athletes get much respect in their home countries. They meet the leaders of their nations, becoming great news to the citizens. However, sometimes the sportsmen win by getting involved in incidences that change the course of issues.
We have had athletes supporting feminist campaigns. However, seeing two athletes from two declared enemy countries in one photo, leaves people in awe. Almost magical, the trending issues have left many people commenting. Some even become skeptical of the outcome as they perceive what the countries may do to the athletes.
Pyongyang-Seoul ’enmity’ loosens
Although the two countries’ border is the most fortified in the world, the athletes are making an exceptional feeling at different opportunities. They are interacting more than they can do back home. There are restrictions between the two capitals making ordinary citizens be unable to send to each other letters or emails. Pyongyang’s latest nuclear tests have led to ceased business with Seoul.
Therefore, international sports such as Olympics act as a common ground for athletes from the two countries. As one can perceive, the selfie incidence is Lee’s biggest win at the Olympics after getting bundled out. It may not win her government’s support, but it does to her citizens. It has loosened the enmity for a while.
Is sports the way to success?
Since the 1980s, North Korea has been pursuing “sports diplomacy” as a national policy. As a way to interact with the outside world after getting isolated, the country benefits from the intercultural exchanges from the outside world. Kim Jong-un, the current leader, has put sports diplomacy a priority, making better-practicing facilities for the athletes. Sports are therefore the first “language” the country can talk to the outside world due to sanctions put to it. It approached its southern counterpart for a joint team although it never succeeded. With major sports such as Olympics getting international recognition, it can be the way to success for the Northern side.
Selfie as a grand gesture
Lee Eun-Ju and Hong Un-Jong’s selfie shows the spirit of unity that Olympics showcase. It shows an overcome of enmity between individuals from the two countries. Moreover, it can act as an example for people from the two countries to love one another and hope that one day they may be together again. On the other hand, if Hong had turned down the selfie request, she would have drawn a picture of a country that does not want to associate with others. From many people’s views, one photo may not show significant progress. However, it is a good starting point. Given that the two athletes competed in the same session, the selfie means that rivalry is not enmity and should only stick to the competition.
What happens next?
Unlike what some social media are reporting, Hong Un-jong will not face hard labor. As a requirement, athletes for North Korea are either members of the ruling party or doing the mandatory military service. Moreover, she will not get criticism since the leader fully supports her act. Therefore, people should not worry of her act. She is a heroine back home for winning her country a gold medal.
Additionally, she cannot do what she knows can bring to her problems. Looking at a past time, she had a selfie with an American athlete and no controversy came about the incidence. It seems after the Olympics, the selfie incident will get televised, and she will indeed get praised.