South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong partnered with North Korean hockey player Hwang Chung-gum to carry one flag together at the opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Games here on Friday, showing moments of unification in the name of sports.
The South and the North Korean athletes marched together under the Korean Unification Flag, an image of the Korean Peninsula in blue against a white background, at the opening ceremony for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. With more than 30,000 spectators watching, Won and Hwang carried the flag together as they led the historic march at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.
The South and North Korean athletes marched together under the song, "Arirang," considered the most well-known folk song on the Korean Peninsula.
There are 92 nations participating in the PyeongChang Olympics, and by custom, South Korea, the host nation, was the last to march. But because the two Koreas have been combined for the occasion, the single Korean delegation was the 91st to enter the open-air arena.
This was the 10th time that the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony of an international sports competition. The last time that the Korean athletes had a joint parade was in 2007 at the Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China.
"This is a very special moment for Korea," Won said. "It is special that we are here, peaceful and together."
Before entering the stadium, Won said he was a little bit nervous to serve as the flagbearer.
"I am afraid of making mistakes because everybody in the world is watching us entering the stadium," he said.
By custom, the South and the North mix gender when it comes to selecting flagbearers. For the PyeongChang Olympics, it was a turn for South Korea to send a male athlete, while North Korea to choose a woman.
At the 2007 Asian Winter Games, South Korea's female alpine skier, Oh Jae-eun, was the co-flagbearer with North Korean male ice hockey player, Ri Kum-song.
Won, 31, was the flag bearer at the team launch ceremony of the South Korean national Olympic team held last month. He is a pilot for both the two-man and four-man bobsleigh team.
Hwang is one of 12 North Koreans named to the historic joint women's hockey team that also has 23 South Koreans. The 22-year-old defender made her international debut in 2015.
Hwang is listed as 163 centimeters, the tallest among North Korean hockey players, with goalkeeper Ri Pom. But Hwang is one of the top picks from the North Korean side. When the joint team played its first game against Sweden last Sunday, Hwang was one of four North Koreans in the lineup.
South Korea has 144 athletes in total, its largest delegation for a Winter Olympics, while North Korea also brought in its Winter Games' record of 22 athletes. (Yonhap)