North Korea will participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. Pyongyang will send athletes, as well as—according to the official statement—cheerleaders, a group of performing artists, and a Taekwondo demonstration team, as well as journalists, while the South will provide materials and the necessary conveniences. This is the first tangible result of the meeting which took place Tuesday at Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas, the symbol of the armistice signed there in 1953, which appears to have reopened a dialogue which was suspended in 2015.
This initiative was born out of two sudden developments, and despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempts to complicate matters in every possible way. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has once again demonstrated the shrewdness and cynicism required to make the best use of the moment, going against the claims of those who have long characterized his actions as those of a madman. With the Olympic Games, Kim has seized an important window of respite, essential for someone who is preparing for lengthy negotiations, as he is. His regime is in some ways obtuse, threatening the whole region, but it cannot be said that the young leader is incapable. Accordingly, he made a clear opening gesture toward South Korea in his New Year speech.
And while a certain fool got hung up trying to start a nuclear button-measuring contest, Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, was on duty and immediately said “yes” to the reopening of dialogue. It was the occupant of the Blue House, a former civil rights lawyer, a liberal and a pacifist, who was born in the North, who was the real winner in this round in the “Korean crisis.”