In a game filled with political significance, a team made up of players from both North and South Korea took to the ice together in the South Korean city of Gangneung – a move observers hoped could go some way to reducing high tensions on the peninsula.
The united team – a first in Olympic history – was praised by North Korean national news agency KCNA for its “skill with the puck” while the official state media outlet also highlighted the that players on the team that included three players from the communist country “called to each other in the same language and combined their efforts.” But the final score line went unmentioned, Swiss media noted.
Instead, the agency preferred to focus on the real import of the game: its political significance. The game had shown that “the Korean nation is one nation and cannot be permanently divided,” the media outlet stated.
In the stands meanwhile, Swiss president Alain Berset followed the game with top politicians from the North Korean regime. Photos show Berset shaking hands and speaking with the powerful sister of Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, and with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam.
Swiss President Alain Berset shakes hands with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam. Photo: AFP
The combined Korean ice hockey team – the only such outfit in the current Winter Olympics – was formed just weeks before the Games with critics in South Korea saying the hasty move would lead to little success on the ice.
The team lost 8–0 and was seriously outplayed by Switzerland but the history books are likely to remember the match for other reasons.