Ryom Tae-Ok And Kim Ju-Sik

This month, North Korean athletes will compete in the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and the entire world will be watching the Gangneung Ice Arena to see if the reclusive government will finally realise its medal hopes.

Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik

Shortly after the two nations held their first high-level meetings in over two years, it was announced that North Korea would send a delegation to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik, two figure skaters, are among the members of the delegation.

Ryom Tae-Ok And Kim Ju-Sik

Above And Beyond Any And All Political Tensions

Both of the Pyongyang-born North Korean skaters qualified for the Games in September, but the country’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) failed to register them before the deadline in October. However, the IOC has taken the necessary steps to push out the deadline, so that North Korean athletes would have an opportunity to participate.

Without regard to political tensions or divides, “the IOC’s purpose is always to ensure the participation of all qualifying athletes,” the organisation said in a statement.

At the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany last September, Ryom, then 18, and Kim, then 25, skated to The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” and their performance was deemed excellent enough to earn them one of the final qualification spots for Pyeongchang.

Ryom and Kim

Despite the fact that neither skater has competed in the Olympics, they have won widespread praise as a team. They competed in the 2016 Asian Figure Skating Trophy in Manila, Philippines, and won the gold medal in the Pairs event. And then, at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, less than six months later, they took home bronze in the same event.

The World Figure Skating Championships were held in Helsinki, Finland, in April of last year, but Ryom and Kim only managed to place 15th.


Since 2010, North Korea has not participated in the Winter Olympics. The pariah state has attended every Summer Games since 1972, with the exception of the ones in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988.

Although North Korea has a solid track record of success in the Summer Olympics, its performance in the Winter Games has been far less impressive. In eight prior attempts, the country has only managed to bring home two medals, both from the speed skating and short track speed skating events.

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