SEOUL, South Korea — Despite the frosty political ties between their home countries, athletes from North and South Korea have sometimes produced emotional scenes of reconciliation at international sports events.
They tearfully hugged after winning a world table tennis championship, drew a standing ovation while parading together at the opening of the Olympics and took a selfie with each other that captured international headlines.
There could be similar drama at next month’s Winter Olympics in the South Korean ski resort town of Pyeongchang, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un saying he’s willing to send a delegation to the games. The two Koreas will meet at their tense border on Tuesday to discuss how to cooperate on the Olympics.
Some key moments in Korean sports ties:
1986: Seoul, the South Korean capital, hosts the Asian Games. North Korea boycotts.
1988: Seoul hosts the Summer Olympics, and North Korea again boycotts.
April 1991: The Koreas send their first-ever unified male and female teams to the world table tennis championships in Chiba, Japan. The women’s team wins the championship by defeating the powerful Chinese.
June 1991: The Koreas send a unified team to the FIFA World Youth Championship in Portugal. The team reaches the quarterfinals.
2000: Athletes from the two Koreas march together under a “unification flag” depicting their peninsula during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics. It’s the Koreas’ first such parade since their 1945 division.
2002: North Korea attends the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. The countries’ athletes conduct a joint march during the opening and closing ceremonies. North Korea sends a cheering group of young women. Dubbed the “squad of beauties” in South Korean media, they often draw more attention than the North’s athletes.
2003: North Korea participates in the University Games in Daegu, South Korea, and its athletes walk with their South Korean counterparts during the opening and closing ceremonies.
2004: Athletes from the two Koreas march jointly at the Athens Olympics.
2005: North Korea attends the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon, South Korea. Included in the North’s cheering squad is Ri Sol Ju, who is now the wife of Kim Jong Un.
2006: The two Koreas march together at the Turin Winter Olympics.
2007: Athletes from the two Koreas march together at the Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China, but have not done so since.
2014: North Korea attends the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. At the close of the event, three top North Korean officials make a surprise visit and hold the highest-level face-to-face talks with South Korea in five years.
2016: At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a 17-year-old South Korean gymnast takes a selfie with a North Korean gymnast while training for competition. The photo captures global headlines, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach describes it as a “great gesture.”
2017: North Korea’s taekwondo demonstration team visits South Korea for its first performance in the rival country in 10 years.
Jan. 1, 2018: North Korea’s Kim says in his New Year’s address that he is willing to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Jan. 5, 2018: South Korea says North Korea has agreed to hold talks on how to cooperate for the Pyeongchang Games.