After North Korea officially accepted an invite to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics this week, multiple measures are being taken to ensure continued open dialogue and the safety of the participants and all those in attendance.
Recently, the North has been dominating headlines as they continue to test nuclear missiles, taunting both the United States and their neighbors in the South.
Since taking power in last May, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has prioritized dialogue between his country and the North to ease tensions.
His efforts have resulted in North Korea agreeing to join the South in attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Beyond that, the two Koreas will be marching together in the opening ceremony and fielding a joint team in women’s ice hockey, creating the precedent of an inter-Korean Olympic team, the New York Times reported.
These actions infer a development in dialogue between the two nations. President Moon has been eager to receive high-level delegates from Pyongyang to continue communication.
On Feb. 4, the New York Times reported that North Korea is now planning to send a high-level government delegation of 22 members, led by Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament.
Mr. Kim is known as the North’s titular head of state for receiving the visiting heads of state and approving the credentials of ambassadors.
While assuming a largely ceremonial role, Mr. Kim is expected to meet with President Moon. However, it is not apparent if Mr. Kim will be delivering a message from Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s supreme leader.
Along with dialogue, security is also a top priority. One extraordinary security measure is being implemented for the protection of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics starting this Friday: interceptor drones tasked with targeting rogue drones.
This anti-drone technology will have the ability to drop nets over suspicious unmanned aerial vehicles that fly into unauthorized areas, according to CNBC. An additional 60,000 personnel have been mobilized in South Korea, plus a number of special operations for added protection.
Dating back to the 1980s, North Korea has developed a reputation of committing vicious attacks before or during South Korean international sporting events, including a 2002 gun battle in the Yellow Sea that left several South Koreans dead in the midst of the World Cup tournament, which was co-hosted by South Korea.
In response to North Korea’s unexpected agreement, officials have stated that South Korea has also taken the step to temporary lift its ban on all North Korean ships entering its waters, as reported by the New York Times. This is to accommodate the 140-member arts troupe sent by the North via ferry.
The ferry will double as lodging for all of its passengers, a deliberate choice to keep North and South Koreans separated. The arts troupe will be performing in the Winter Olympics as part of Olympic-related cultural events, as reported by the New York Times.
Rescinding sanctions, even temporarily, is a crucial decision, writes the New York Times. There was the 2002 event in the Yellow Sea to take note of, and also a 2010 incident when the South lost a warship allegedly due to a North Korean torpedo attack.