The Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony was held in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. North Korea and South Korea shook hands at the ceremony, continuing the theme of unity and peace between the two countries in a beautiful, and rather surprising, demonstration. Recently-elected South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, appeared in the audience smiling and shaking hands with other dignitaries, such as American vice president, Mike Pence. When Moo Jae-in was elected nine months ago, he had pubilcly advocated for a better relationship with North Korea. So, when North Korea proposed sending Kim Jon-Un’s sister, Kim Yojong, to the 2018 Winter Olympics, it was essentially a dream come true for the South Korean President.
In terms of America’s presence at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Luger Erin Hamlin, 2014 bronze medalist and four time Olympian, led team USA into the arena as the flag bearer, followed by 241 other American competitors with bright eyes and wide smiles. According to the announcers and the New York Times, Team USA has never had a larger army of athletes compete at the Winter Games. Blasting behind the proud men and women decked out in patriotic red, white and blue, played famous song, “Gangnam Style,” by South Korean PSY. The announcers, in addition to being excited at the general good vibes and hype of the Opening Ceremony, also tittered with interest that Team USA’s jacket possessed little heating units in them, courtesy of Ralph Lauren.
This is relevant commentary when one takes into account the expected wintery conditions on the night of the highly anticipated ceremony. According to esteemed South Korean theatrical director, Sang Seung-whan, preparations had to be made in case the weather became too unreasonable. If the weather went below zero degrees, like it had done several days prior, he feared some of the technology would malfunction. Luckily, the 28 degree weather on the day of the event did little to nothing to deter the performers from putting on a spectacular performance.
The Opening Ceremony was complete with a fireworks and a smattering of drones used to form the Olympic rings glittering in the sky. At one point, a collection of South Korea’s most popular musicians sang “Imagine,” amongst a swirling expanse of floating candles. Much to the surprise of spectators, there were two impersonators in the crowd imitating President Trump and Kim Jong-un. Multiple pictures are available to view on Twitter. According to the New York Times, ushers escorted the impersonators out of the stands, but not before a swarm of fans delightedly snapped shots of the two actors.
As part of the continued display of kinship between North and South Korea, a cheering squad sang and waved the unified flag of the two nations. Though it is not an official flag, it is recognized as a symbol for unity and sportsmanship during these Olympics, since the women’s hockey team is comprised of a mixture of South and North Korean athletes. The blue insignia in the middle of the flag is the outline of the Korean peninsula, complete with accompanying islands. According to Wikipedia, the flag was first used in 1991 in a World Table Tennis championship held in Chiba, Japan. In times of increased global conflict, it is comforting to see harmony between two seemingly opposite nations, who have managed to find common ground in art and athletics.
With such a positive and energetic display to kick off the 23rd Winter Olympics, the ensuing display of talent and hard work of world-class competitors has been rewarding to observe. But I myself, who am not a huge sports fan, enjoy the artistry of master athletes like Shaun White, Maame Biney and Red Gerard (to name a few). Although it is difficult to make time and watch full installments of each event, I strongly suggest you keep up to date with highlights posted online and on social media. It is so exciting and heartwarming to see hard working people from around the world live out their dreams.
Domenica Castro is a first-year student majoring in theater. ✉ DC874612@wcupa.edu.