Plan for joint Olympics Korean team gets icy reception in Seoul
Plans for joint teams of athletes from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at next month's Winter Olympics have reportedly met with a frosty reception on the ROK side.
Seoul has been forging ahead with plans to use the  Olympics in Pyeongchang to showcase inter-Korean unity but some athletes south of the border are "furious" at the proposals, according to Reuters.
Officials from both countries are still engaged in talks over exactly how the DPRK will participate in the Pyeongchang games. But the backlash may trip up the ROK's plans to use the sporting event to improve bilateral ties after a year of high tension over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
The ROK's women's ice hockey team was the first to be singled out for possible integration with the DPRK, with sports minister Do Jong-hwan saying the government would ask Olympic organizers to expand the team's roster from 23 to more than 30.
That came as a shock to team members, who had just returned to Seoul last Friday after training in the United States for the past three weeks, a senior official with the Korea Ice Hockey Association was quoted as saying by Reuters.
S. Korea's women's ice hockey team member in a training session on January 10. /VCG Photo

S. Korea's women's ice hockey team member in a training session on January 10. /VCG Photo

"They were just furious and found the idea absurd," the official said on condition of anonymity. "We are utterly speechless that the government just picked us out of blue and asked us to play with total strangers at the Olympics."
The proposal has also sparked an outcry from thousands of S. Korean nationals, who have signed online petitions asking the presidential Blue House to drop the idea.
More than 70 percent of nationals oppose forming a joint team with the DPRK, according to a January 11 survey released by the office of the National Assembly Speaker and television network SBS. More than 80 percent, however, said they welcomed the DPRK’s participation in general.
A spokesmen for the Blue House referred questions to the ministries involved in the talks with the DPRK. The sports ministry said it was discussing the matter with the International Olympic Committee to "minimize any disadvantage" for the South Korean team.
"We will also be taking the public opinion into consideration prior to making the final decision," a ministry official told Reuters. The unification ministry declined to comment.
(Head photo: South Korean and DPRK athletes marching together during the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Turin, February 10, 2006. /VCG Photo)
Source(s): Reuters