Winter Olympics begin with historic handshake between North, South Korean heads of state


The opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics began in Pyeongchang yesterday with a symbolic quest to find peace, which has become the overriding theme of these games.

The spectacular display featured child performers, huge puppets, dazzling light displays and thousands of dancers in a celebration of Korean unity.

Inside the area 30,000 people, including a 200-strong North Korean cheerleading squad, watched the display in -3C temperatures, and were encouraged to bang drums given to them in an extreme weather kit to keep warm.

As the teams paraded around the stadium their national flags were displayed in the centre of the stage, while lights behind each seat lit up with the national colours.

The ceremony was also watched by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, who had earlier shaken hands in an historic meeting.

Sitting alongside them in the world leader’s box was Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and US Vice President Mike Pence, who were sitting just one row apart.

Four Korean singers then took to the stage to perform ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, who were then backed by a film showing street musicians around the world singing the song.

The show, directed by Korean actor Song Seung-whan, uses the South Korean flag – the Taegeukgi – and the traditional janggo drum to represent the harmony of yin and yang.

South Korea’s Royal Marching Band and the Traditional Guard of Honour – both in national dress, wowed the crowd.

South Korea’s leader proclaimed the Pyeongchang Olympic Games as a ‘path to peace’ as he opened the Games in a spectacular ceremony.

President President Moon Jae-in told a packed stadium – and an international audience of millions in 200 countries – that sport had the power to bring ‘reconciliation between East and West’.

He said: ‘I would like to welcome everyone who has joined us here in at Pyeongchang for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

“The Seoul 1988 Summer Games paved the way for reconciliation between East and West by breaking down the wall of the Cold War.

“Thirty years after hosting the Summer Games, the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games has commenced with a hope for peace from everyone around the world.

credit: TheGuardian