What Happened with the Winter Olympics’ Ceremony’s Landmark Handshake

(Al Jazeera)

The 23rd Winter Olympic Games kicked off in Pyeongchang on the evening of February 9th. The opening ceremony, titled “Peace in Motion,” was held in front of a 35,000-person crowd, which included spectators, athletes, and officials. The most notable detail from the ceremony, however, was not the pomp and circumstance; it was a single handshake between Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President.


Kim Yo Jong arrived in Pyeongchang on Friday with a delegation of North Korean officials. The high-level envoy visited for several days in anticipation of the Korean joint team, which will march together under a ‘unification flag.’ This venture represents a thawing of North and South Korean relations—relations which were frozen and unyielding just a few months ago. Last month, the countries resumed cross-border talks for the first time in several years. This was a major diplomatic breakthrough resulting in the commitment of a North Korean Olympic team.


At Thursday’s opening ceremony, Kim Yo Jong and Moon Jae-in were seen shaking hands. This unprecedented encounter between these two senior Koreans has sparked hope in the further easing of tensions between the countries. After the handshake, a physical demonstration of diplomacy, the two parted to sit with their respective nations.


In the next 17 days, 2,952 athletes from 92 countries will compete for Olympic medals in 15 different sports. As of this publication, some events have already begun—curling and ski jumping began late on Thursday.