The difference between freedom and slavery
This weekend at the PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea, the Korean Women’s Hockey Team has been one of the top stories. In a decision made just days before the Opening Ceremonies, South Korea and North Korea decided to field a combined team. As anyone that knows anything about world politics would tell you, this is a big deal. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is the world’s foremost antagonist. Yet together, the North Koreans and South Koreans would field a women’s hockey team and show the world peace. The experiment did show the world something, but it was not peace, it was what the difference between a people clothed in freedom and one enslaved by dictatorship look and act like.
Throughout the Korean women’s hockey game the stands were filled with Korean fans. There were of course the South Korean fans who filled most of the arena. They came and went as they chose. They came as families and danced to the popular music. There were also the North Korean fans who stuck out like a sore thumb. These fans looked and acted like robots. They all wore the same thing, they all had the same facial expression and they all danced and cheered the exact same way. According to the New York Times the North Koreans had no reaction to the popular music of the last 40 years. They knew nothing of world culture, including South Korea’s most famous boy band. The North Koreans seemed straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.
On the ice was no better. Yeah, they fielded a combined team, but they lost a 0-8 to Switzerland. Not a single North Korean was good enough to make a line. In other words, the South Korean team is not very good but the North Koreans are even worse. According to NPR, the Korean team was first organized in 2015 and it took “literally all of the Korean hockey players in existence.” Many of the Korean players live and train outside of Korea. The coach, a Canadian, was not happy about the addition of the North Koreans. “We can’t waste any extra energy being angry”, is her quote. The shining spots of the Korean hockey team is those who were able to pursue the sport elsewhere or the talent that has come through international peace with the world that South Korea has. There is hope for the team going forward. The North Koreans was unable to bring none of that to the combined team.
The media, sports and hard a-like, have gone crazy over this team. But they are all talking about the wrong things. This isn’t showing world peace or a coming together. It shows what democracy and freedom can create in people and what despotism and slavery does in another. From the players to the fans, the people of North and South Korea are far more separated than a simple hockey team can reconcile. They are separated by freedom and slavery. They are divide between progress and stagnation. Yes, we learned a lot about North and South Korea at the game, we saw a people enslaved by their despotic government. No amount of smiling by Kim Yo-jong will change that.