The momentum behind North and South Korean reconciliation ahead of a summit on denuclearization continues to gather and the sports world has helped both Pyongyang and Seoul by providing a platform for small, trust-building measures. During the recent Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, the two countries marched together during the Opening Ceremony in a symbolic act for two countries still technically at war and still functionally at loggerheads. The women’s hockey team at the Games also included players from both countries on its roster. This week, in another astonishing sign of the changing times, the North and South Korean women’s table tennis teams decided mid-tournament to combine forces and compete as one, unified team rather than face one another in the quarterfinals of the world championship in Sweden.
“I’m happy. It’s a bit of a risk of course as this is not 100 percent according to the rules,” International Table Tennis Federation president Thomas Weikert told Reuters. “We respect the rules, yes we changed them, but we will never do that again, and it’s more than a sport, it’s more for the peace… I think it’s worth it.”
The unified Korean team will now move on to the semifinals Friday against Japan.