Cooperation for the two Koreas

Published Jan 23, 2018 at 4:00pm

You could think of it as detente — with an asterisk.

Athletes and others from North Korea and South Korea will march together under one banner in the opening ceremony of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While there have been a couple of similar displays in the past, one has to pause and recognize that what’s about to occur isn’t exactly an everyday thing.

Is the news worth cheering? Certainly. With reservations.

Because there is no way to know if the two Koreas marching under a banner that shows the entire Korean peninsula is a sign of better things ahead, or if it’s merely a stalling tactic from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After all, if the entire world is busy congratulating the despot on his newfound rationality, he might well take that as an opportunity to get to work on furthering his nuclear and ballistic missile programs. While no one is looking, as it were.

Still, it’s possible to feel that the rapprochement, even if it should turn out to be only temporary, beats the heck out of the alternative.

And it’s notable that the two Koreas are planning more than mere symbolic gestures.

If details can be worked out, the women’s ice hockey teams from the longtime rivals will be briefly merged into one unit for next month’s Olympics. How that might work out in practice remains anyone’s guess, but at a minimum, it will make for some can’t-miss television the world over.