The inclusion of North Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics is a promising step forward in relations with the regime, asserts Gayle Lemmon of CNN. At the very least, its participation in the winter edition of the event will calm tempers, which have been dangerously fired up recently. International sports can be a great vehicle of diplomacy. The 1988 Olympics in Seoul could have heralded a better relationship with North Korea, had it been involved. An offer of hosting the event in both countries was discussed but shelved, leading to a stark worsening in relations. South Korea should use this opportunity to maintain a positive dialogue that lasts beyond the Olympics.
Participating in the Winter Olympics is a ruse by North Korea to squeeze concessions out of its southern neighbor, infers Harry J. Kazianis of The Hill. The regime’s strategy will be to appear well-natured while pushing South Korea for sanction relief or direct bribes to follow through on participating in the games. Kim Jong-un might even threaten to rattle the event and turn away visitors with new missile tests or a cyber attack if he doesn’t get his way in negotiations. Few gains are likely to be made from this increase in dialogue, while North Korea pushes for concessions. No one should get their hopes up that this will improve the situation.