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Saturday, February 10, 2018

AN UNCOMMON DAY: The World at Relative Peace

My intent was to continue my energy series, but I'll let that wait until Monday.  Today, I focus on Peace on Earth and report on the Opening Ceremonies of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.  Why they picked this site is because it is the coldest location in the country and in 1999 did a good job as host of the Asian Winter Olympics.

First, PyeongChang is not a city but a county, with an average elevation of 2,300 feet.  They recently added something called a camelcase by capitalizing the C to underscore that they are not Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.  Even then a delegation of Olympics corporate sponsors in April of last year landed in the wrong place.

The county borders North Korea and the Olympic site is 110 miles east southeast of Seoul, where high-speed rail between the two locations was completed only two months ago. Pyeongchang will also host the Winter Paralympics.   If you're going there anyway, there are numerous cultural heritages, and a petting zoo at Daegwallyeong.

Now, about the Opening Ceremony, which was spectacular, even Donald Trump and Kim Jung-un showed up, together.  Well, actually they were impersonators.

The real Kim Jung-un, though, is looking more and more like the peacemaker in the region, for he is making the USA look like some kind of mean scalawag.  Vice President Michael Pence comes to Korea with threats of additional sanctions and does not bother to shake hands with Jung-un's sister, Yo Jong, sitting right behind him.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, however, went right up to her for a handshake.  I have to think Pence is doing exactly what Trump told him to do.  The real VP would have been courteous.

Here are some photos I took of the opening ceremonies:

I'm not in PyeongChang, of course.  I took these photos off my TV set.

Notwithstanding the attitude of the USA, the overwhelming sense of the ceremonies was of reconciliation and friendship.  The North and South walked into the stadium together with their common flag, held together by Hwang Chung Gum of the North and Won Yun-jong of the South. While Yuna Kim of the South, who won the figure skating gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, lit the flame, two members of the joint Korean women's hockey team (one from the North and the other from the South) handed the torch to Kim.

Oh, while the whole stadium stood for the entrance of the Korean Olympic Team, Karen and Mike Pence remained seated.  The USA has the largest team ever in the Winter Games, but our political leaders are clearly wallowing as the Olympic Grinch.  No doubt President Trump is gloating that had he not played Bad Cop, this appearance of rapprochment would never have happened.  Then again, maybe Kim Jung-un is finally beginning to listen to me.

Incidentally, NBC is covering these Winter Olympics, and these are the TV channels today:

  • NBC
  • USA
  • Olympic Channel
Two events have already been completed:
  • Charlotte Kalia of Sweden won the first gold medal for the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon, her six medal and third gold in the history of her Olympics.  Silver medalist, Marit Bjoergen earned her 11th medal, the most ever for a female Olympian.
  • Soon thereafter, Lim Hyojun of Korea won the 1500 meter short-track speedskating event.

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