North Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics

North Korea competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Pair skaters Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik qualified for the Games, but the North Korean National Olympic Committee failed to enter them by the 30 October 2017 deadline. On 9 January 2018, North Korea agreed in negotiations with South Korea to send both athletes and a delegation to the Winter Olympics.[2]

North Korea at the
2018 Winter Olympics
Flag of North Korea.svg
NOCOlympic Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
in Pyeongchang, South Korea
9–25 February 2018
Competitors10 in 4 sports
Flag bearer None[note 1]
Winter Olympics appearances (overview)
Other related appearances
 Korea (2018)

The teams representing North Korea and South Korea entered the Opening Ceremony marching under the Korean Unification Flag, while in women's ice hockey there was a single united Korean team.[3]


The following is the list of number of competitors participating in the North Korean delegation per sport.[4]

Sport Men Women Total
Alpine skiing 2 1 3
Cross-country skiing 2 1 3
Figure skating 1 1 2
Ice hockey 0 0[a] 0
Short track speed skating 2 0 2
Total 7 3 10

a Twelve members of the North Korea women's ice hockey team formed part of a unified Korea women's team which competed under a different country code (COR).[5]

Lead up to the GamesEdit

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was keen for North Korean athletes to participate at the 2018 Winter Olympics. In order to increase their chances of qualification, the IOC offered to support them with equipment, accommodation, and travel to qualification events.[6]

North Korean short track speed skaters and cross-country skiers did not qualify for the Games.[7] A wild card arrangement was considered for the eventuality that no North Korean athlete managed to qualify.[8]

The host nation South Korea had proposed a unified team of the two Koreas at the Games. The team would participate at least in the women's ice hockey event and possibly more disciplines.[9][10] North Korea rejected this proposal in June 2017 on the grounds of time constraints.[10][11]

Similarly, South Korea had suggested that North Korea could co-host some of the skiing events at the Masikryong Ski Resort. This suggestion came after Moon Jae-in was elected President of South Korea in 2017. Earlier in December 2014, the organizers had denied the possibility of sharing any part of their bid with the North.[9] Like the unified team proposal, the new co-hosting proposal was refused by the North.[10] North Korea, however, supported South Korea's Olympic bid for the 2018 Games.[11] This was unlike in 1988, when North Korea was willing to co-host the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, but once those plans had failed, it instead boycotted the Games and orchestrated the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858, in what is believed to have been an attempt to sabotage the Games.[12]


Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik qualified for the Games on 29 September 2017 at the 2017 CS Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.[6] Their successful free skating program was to the tune of "Je ne suis qu'une chanson [fr]" by Ginette Reno,[13] and their short program on the day before was to the music of The Beatles.[6] They took one of the five available qualification spots for pair skaters at the event,[6] as had previously been anticipated.[14]

The qualification was seen as a positive development, since it could alleviate fears of the escalation of the 2017–18 North Korea crisis that might have otherwise jeopardized the Games.[6]

The International Skating Union confirmed Ryom and Kim's qualification, but the North Korean National Olympic Committee still needed to approve their participation.[6] Chang Ung, a North Korean member of the IOC, said he found this likely,[15] adding: "I am quite sure that politics is one thing and Olympics is another thing. So I don't see any big problem for the Pyeongchang Olympics."[8] Despite this, the North Korean NOC failed to accept the two athletes by the deadline of 30 October.[16]

Failure to enter athletesEdit

When the North Korean NOC failed to enter its only qualified athletes to the Games, North Korea's participation remained uncertain.[16] The North Korean spot went to the runners up, Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet representing Japan.[17] They needed to accept the spot by 21 December 2017, which did not happen.[7] North Korea could still have requested its quota be confirmed, in which case the IOC would have deliberated on the matter. An IOC spokesperson stated, "[W]e would of course be flexible if they expressed a desire to come."[16] A wild card option remained on the table.[7]

Organizers of the Games did not expect the final decision on North Korea's participation to be made until the very last opportunity,[18] and Moon Jae-in had given North Korea the chance to make the decision at any time before the start of the Games.[6]

High-level talksEdit

The impasse ended when North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un signaled in his New Year's speech for 2018, a possibility of sending athletes to the Games after all, saying "North Korea's participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility".[19] The announcement was followed by South Korean agreement to participate in the first high-level talks with the North since December 2015; the talks were scheduled for 9 January 2018.[20] North Korea was also prepared to talk to the IOC that week.[21] In preparation for the North–South talks, the two countries restored the Seoul–Pyongyang hotline, which had been inactive for almost two years,[22] and exchanged related documents via fax.[20] After these developments, North Korea's IOC member Chang Ung said that the participation of North Korean figure skaters again looked likely.[23] After the discussions on 9 January 2018, North Korea announced that they would send athletes to compete along with a delegation to attend the Winter Olympics.[2]

These moves were met with public opposition in South Korea, including protests and online petitions; critics argued that the government was attempting to use the Olympics to spread pro-North Korean sentiment, and that the idea of a unified hockey team was ill-conceived.[24] A rap video entitled "The Regret for Pyeongchang" (평창유감), echoing this criticism and labeling the event the "Pyongyang Olympics", went viral in the country.[25] Japan's foreign affairs minister Tarō Kōno warned South Korea to be wary of North Korea's "charm offensive", and not to ease its pressure on the country.[26][27]

Diplomacy at the GamesEdit

North Korean and South Korean athletes at the opening ceremony

The athletes from North and South Korea marched under the Korean unification flag in the opening ceremony.[28] South Korean Won Yun-jong and North Korean Hwang Chung-gum both held the flagpole.[29]

As well as the athletes, North Korea sent an unprecedented high-level delegation, headed by Kim Yo-jong (sister of the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un) and President Kim Yong-nam, and including performers like the Samjiyon Orchestra.[30] The delegation handed over an invitation to the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, to visit North Korea.[30]

President Moon shook hands with Kim Yo-jong at the start of the Olympics. This was the first time since the Korean War that a member of the ruling Kim dynasty had visited South Korea.[31][32] In contrast, US Vice President Mike Pence met North Korean defectors in PyeongChang joined by Fred Warmbier, whose son Otto died the year before after being released from North Korean captivity.[33] American officials said that North Korea canceled a meeting with Pence at the last minute.[34]

The apparent softening of relations between the two countries was marred by North Korea dispatching general Kim Yong-chol to head the North Korean delegation present at the closing ceremony. The arrival of Kim, held responsible by South Korea for the deaths of dozens of South Korean navy personnel, was met with hostility but the government did not oppose his presence at the Olympics. The general ended up being seated in the same stand as Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the US president.[35]

Alpine skiingEdit

Athlete Event Run 1 Run 2 Total Ref
Time Rank Time Rank Time Rank
Choe Myong-gwang Men's giant slalom 1:38.67 85 1:33.34 75 3:12.01 75 [36]
Men's slalom 1:09.42 51 1:13.39 43 2:22.81 43 [37]
Kang Song-il Men's giant slalom 1:32.03 84 1:29.99 74 3:02.02 74 [36]
Men's slalom 1:11.43 52 DNF [37]
Kim Ryon-hyang Women's giant slalom 1:40.22 67 DSQ DNF [38]
Women's slalom 1:18.17 59 1:19.81 54 2:37.98 54 [39]

Cross-country skiingEdit

Athlete Event Final Ref
Time Deficit Rank
Han Chun-gyong Men's 15 km freestyle 42:29.2 +8:45.3 101 [40]
Pak Il-chol 43:43.4 +9:59.5 107 [40]
Ri Yong-gum Women's 10 km freestyle 36:40.4 +11:39.9 89 [41]

Figure skatingEdit

Athlete Event SP FS Total Ref
Points Rank Points Rank Points Rank
Ryom Tae-ok
Kim Ju-sik
Pairs 69.4 11 124.23 12 193.63 13 [42]

Women's ice hockey tournamentEdit

In January 2018, it was announced that the North Korean team would be amalgamated with a group of South Korean players to form a single Korean team in the women's ice hockey tournament. In this unified team, at least three North Korean players were to be selected for each game.[43] The South Korea women's national ice hockey team qualified as the host.[44]

Short track speed skatingEdit

Athlete Event Heat Quarterfinal Semifinal Final Ref
Time Rank Time Rank Time Rank Time Rank
Jong Kwang-bom Men's 500 m PEN Did not advance [45]
Choe Un-song Men's 1500 m 2:18.213 6 Did not advance [46]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ North Korea did not march as a separate country at the Parade of Nations. The North Korean delegates joined with those from South Korea to participate in the opening ceremony as "Korea". The flagbearers of the unified Korea team were North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum and South Korean bobsleigher Won Yun-jong.[1]


  1. ^ "Kim Jong Un's sister shakes hands with South Korean president Moon Jae In at opening ceremony". 10 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Sang-Hun, Choe (8 January 2018). "North Korea to Send Olympic Athletes to South Korea, in Breakthrough". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  3. ^ Sang-hun, Choe (17 January 2018). "North and South Korean Teams to March as One at Olympics". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  4. ^ "NOC Entries - Democratic People's Republic of Korea". Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  5. ^ "N. Korea to send 22 athletes in three sports to PyeongChang Winter Olympics: IOC". Yonhap News Agency. 20 January 2018. Archived from the original on 21 January 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Figure skating: North Korea pair qualify for Pyeongchang 2018". Reuters. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Lee Song-heung (1 December 2017). "N.Korean Skaters Forfeit Tickets to Pyeongchang Olympics". The Chosun Ilbo. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b Longman, Jeré (27 September 2017). "North Korea Skaters Seek Olympic Bid, and Diplomats Cheer". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  9. ^ a b "N. Korean IOC member keeps mum on Olympic co-hosting with S. Korea". Yonhap News Agency. 23 June 2017. Archived from the original on 2 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "North Korea refuses Olympic offer from South". BBC News. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  11. ^ a b Payne, Marissa (30 September 2017). "PyeongChang Olympic organizers happy to see first North Koreans qualify for 2018 Games". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  12. ^ Longman, Jeré (23 May 2017). "With the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, Will the North Be Participant or Provocateur?". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  13. ^ "N. Korean skating pair earns Pyeongchang spot". The Japan News. The Yomiuri Shimbun. Agence France-Presse. 30 September 2017. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  14. ^ Zaccardi, Nick (26 September 2017). "North Korea can qualify for Olympics this week". OlympicTalk. NBC Sports. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  15. ^ "S. Korea welcomes 'special' Olympic skaters from North". New Straits Times. Agence France-Presse. 30 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  16. ^ a b c Axon, Rachel (10 December 2017). "IOC encourages North Koreans to compete in Pyeongchang, but it's unclear if they will". USA Today. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  17. ^ "Figure skating: Japan to contest Olympic pairs after N. Korea misses deadline". Kyodo News. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  18. ^ Moon, Angela (14 November 2017). "North Korea decision on Olympics participation seen as last minute: South Korea official". Reuters. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  19. ^ Heekyong Yang; Smith, Josh (1 January 2018). "North Korea's Kim 'open to dialogue' with South Korea, will only use nukes if threatened". Reuters. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  20. ^ a b "North Korea accepts Olympics talks offer, says South". BBC News. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  21. ^ "North Korea will meet with South Korea for talks next week in small breakthrough". Chicago Tribune. AP. 5 January 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  22. ^ Kim, Hyung-Jin (3 January 2018). "North Korea reopens cross-border communication channel with South Korea". Chicago Tribune. AP. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Reports: North Korea says it is likely to compete at '18 Olympics". ESPN Australia. AP. 6 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  24. ^ Stiles, Matt (22 January 2018). "South Korean protesters object to Olympic Games deal with North Korea". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  25. ^ Harrison, Paul; Kang, Tae-jun; Jakhar, Pratik (2 February 2018). "Rap video frosty welcome for 2018 Winter Olympic Games". BBC News. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Koreas to march under single 'united' flag in Olympic Games". BBC News. 17 January 2018. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  27. ^ Hyung-Jin Kim; Ahn Young-Joon (22 January 2018). "Olympic Cooperation Between North and South Korea Has Provoked Protests in Seoul". Time. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  28. ^ Armen Graham, Bryan (8 March 2018). "Winter Olympics opening ceremony: Koreans enter under unified flag – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  29. ^ Hogan, Michael (9 February 2018). "Winter Olympics 2018 opening ceremony review: Pyeongchang unites the world in a blizzard of emotion and effects". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  30. ^ a b Ji, Dagyum (12 February 2018). "Delegation visit shows N. Korea can take "drastic" steps to improve relations: MOU". NK News.
  31. ^ Haas, Benjamin (9 February 2018). "Pence skips Olympics dinner in snub to North Korean officials". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  32. ^ Friedman, Uri (9 February 2018). "North Korea's Undeserved Olympic Glory". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 10 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  33. ^ Labott, Elise (9 February 2018). "As North Koreans arrive at Olympics, Pence points to defectors to counter regime". CNN. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  34. ^ Lederman, Josh (21 February 2018). "US says North Korea cancelled planned meeting with US VP Mike Pence". Stuff. Fairfax Media.
  35. ^ "US ties any North Korea talks to nuclear arms". BBC News. 25 February 2018.
  36. ^ a b "Alpine Skiing: Men's Giant Slalom: Run 1: Official Results" (PDF). PyeongChang2018/FIS. 18 February 2018. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Alpine Skiing: Men's Slalom: Run 1: Official Results" (PDF). PyeongChang2018/FIS. 22 February 2018. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  38. ^ "Alpine Skiing | Results Ladies' Giant Slalom Run 2 - Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games". 16 February 2018. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  39. ^ "Alpine Skiing | Results Ladies' Slalom Run 2 - Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games". 16 February 2018. Archived from the original on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  40. ^ a b "Cross-Country Skiing | Results Men' 15km Free - Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games". 16 February 2018. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  41. ^ "Cross-Country Skiing | Results Ladies' 10km Free - Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games". 15 February 2018. Archived from the original on 15 February 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  42. ^ "Figure Skating | Results Pair Skating Short Program - Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games". 14 February 2018. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  43. ^ "Winter Olympics 2018: North Korea will send 22 athletes to Pyeongchang". BBC Sport. 20 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  44. ^ Steiss, Adam (19 September 2014). "Korea headed to the Olympics: National teams granted entry to PyeongChang 2018". International Ice Hockey Federation. Archived from the original on 3 October 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  45. ^ "Short Track Speed Skating – Men's 500m – Heats Results" (PDF). Pyeongchang 2018. International Olympic Committee. 20 February 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  46. ^ "Short Track Speed Skating - Results - Olympic Winter Games 2018 - Men - 1,500m - Heats". ISU. 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018.

External linksEdit

  Media related to North Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympics at Wikimedia Commons
  North Korea to send head of state to South Korea for Olympics at Wikinews
  Koreas hold joint training session for Olympics at Wikinews