A North Korean official on Tuesday floated the possibility of co-hosting the 2021 Asian Winter Games with South Korea and using North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort for the event.
“Chang Ung, North Korea’s representative on the International Olympic Committee, made the comments a few days after a South Korean provincial governor said Gangwon province, host for the current 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, was considering a proposal to co-host the 2021 Asian Winter Games. The host city for the 2021 event has not been decided yet,” Reuters reports.
ABS-CBN News reports the governor of Gangwon province suggested the Masikryong ski resort could be used for the 2021 games over the weekend, prompting Chang to declare the idea “sufficiently possible” after what he deemed a “perfect” Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
“The Olympics are a great success, thanks to unity achieved by the Korean people,” said Chang. He added that, since the Asian Winter Games have fewer participants than the Olympics, it would be easier to arrange for the two Koreas to co-host the event.
Various observers regarded the proposal as either an encouraging sign of thawing relations, an effort by North Korea to keep its “charm offensive” going and collect more benefit money from its vastly more prosperous southern neighbor, or idle talk that is unlikely to yield concrete results.
Those holding the latter view note that speculation about the two Koreas co-hosting the Asian Games has gone nowhere in the past and that when the venue is announced at the Summer Asian Games in Indonesia this August, it might not be in Korea at all.
The UK Guardian points out that South Korea’s Defense Ministry has restated its intention to resume joint military drills with the United States in the spring, possibly as early as next month, a move that is likely to infuriate North Korea and end whatever thawing of relations might have taken place.
“The Trump group’s racket for resuming the war exercises is a wild act of ruthlessly trampling even a small sprout of peace that has been now seen on the Korean Peninsula. This proves that the U.S. war shadow expected to loom after the Olympics has begun to be activated in its practical phase,” Pyongyang’s state-run media thundered on Monday.