Unified: Korea marches together at 2018 opening ceremony

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — On a divided peninsula marked most in its recent history by war and division, the 2018 Olympic Winter Games opened Friday night as a tribute to the powerful symbolism of the five rings, the two Koreas punctuating the colorful parade of nations by marching into Olympic Stadium together.

 The unified Korean delegation marching into Olympic Stadium // Getty Images

The unified Korean delegation marching into Olympic Stadium // Getty Images

On a chilly evening in a stadium just 50 miles from the demilitarized zone that since the armistice in 1953 has buffered North from South, athletes and officials from the two Koreas reprised a march behind a blue-on-white flag representing a united Korea.

The two sides had marched together at the opening ceremony at three prior Games, starting in 2000 at Sydney. For the first time at an Olympics, though, North and South will compete together — unified — in women’s ice hockey. Compare: at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games, the North boycotted.

As International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said in the lead-up to the ceremony, “The Olympic spirit is about respect, dialogue and understanding,” adding that these Games “are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula, and inviting the world to join in a celebration of hope.”

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