chapter  7
14 Pages

North and South Korean relations and sport

Displaying unified Korean nationalism at the 2002 Busan Asian Games
ByJung Woo Lee

Insofar as inter-Korean relations are concerned, the 2002 Busan Asian Games is arguably the most significant sports mega-event that South Korea has ever hosted. For the first time in its history, North Korean athletes participated in an international competition held in South Korea. This reflects an emerging mood of reconciliation between North and South Korea at that time. Understandably, unified Korean nationalism, which emphasizes the ethnic unity of the two sides and the historical necessity of the reunification, frequently appeared during the Asian Games. At the same time, however, North Korean attendance aroused controversy over the use of the North Korean flag and anthem because the public display of the communist symbols in the South was illegal according to its national security law. These developments unfolding during the Asian Games demonstrate uncomfortable co-existence of organic and civic nationalisms in South Korea.