2018 Winter Olympics a 'rare opportunity' to ease Korean Peninsula tensions
CGTN's World Insight
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula flared up in 2017, amid a bitter war of words between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and US President Donald Trump. Pyongyang relentlessly fired one projectile after another, speeding up the pace of its missile and nuclear tests in defiance of the international community and a host of UN sanctions. But will 2018 bring stability to the Korean Peninsula?
"I think the possibility of returning to negotiation, from North Korea’s (DPRK’s) point of view, goes up with the next provocation. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but just look at the calendar in the next two weeks,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean Studies at Tufts University.
Next weekend marks the 6th anniversary of Kim Jong Un assuming the top post of the country’s military, and his birthday falls on January 8. Pyongyang has a history of coinciding its military tests with big events on the country’s calendar.
"So there are momentous occasions for Kim to do another big provocation, raise the stakes, create a crisis atmosphere and then back down. And I think South Korea especially will bite any kind of bait by Kim Jong Un to change the dynamics and return to talks at some kind of government level," said Sung.
Meanwhile Zhao Tong, fellow at Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, expressed belief that the 2018 Winter Olympics next February in South Korea is an opportunity for Seoul and Washington to show some goodwill towards Pyongyang. Zhao added that the US needs to show some flexibility as it has so far resisted talking to Pyongyang without preconditions.
"We have seen South Korea proposing to the US that the joint military exercises scheduled in February or early March should be postponed until the end of the Olympic games. I think South Korea has a lot of hope that we can really use this winter games as an opportunity… for South Korea and the US to show some good gesture without appearing weak. Because they can say they postponed or scaled down the military exercises not because of North Korea (DPRK) but because of the Olympic peace,” said Zhao.
World Insight With Tian Wei is a 45-minute global affairs and debate show on CGTN. It airs weekdays at 10:15 p.m. BJT (1415GMT) with rebroadcasts at 4:15 a.m. BJT (20:15GMT).