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DUFAULT: Olympics offer opportunity for diplomacy

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Vice President Mike Pence attended the 2018 Winter Olympics in North Korea.

Vice President Mike Pence attended the 2018 Winter Olympics in North Korea.

Photo by Flickr

Photo by Flickr

Vice President Mike Pence attended the 2018 Winter Olympics in North Korea.

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The Olympics are a symbol of peace and unity and serve as a prime opportunity for the leaders of the world’s countries, allies or enemies, to meet face-to-face and delegate.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are a chance for America to meet with North Korean leaders. Vice President Mike Pence is in South Korea to attend the Olympics, which is an opportunity to decrease the threat of an attack from the North Korean regime.

This all depends on how Pence decides to act toward these leaders. So far, it doesn’t sound like it’s off to a great start. It seems like Pence is trying to promote the exact opposite of peace talks. Pence is allegedly emphasizing that he has no intention of normalizing relationships with the North Koreans and that he will not allow North Korean propaganda to take over the message of the Olympics.

Pence and North Korean delegates allegedly have yet to even interact with each other, going as far to not even look at each other during the opening ceremonies.

His aggressive stance toward the North Korean regime makes sense. It has made threats that are inexcusable and should be handled with utmost concern and defensiveness. But since the Olympics are a time of peace, it may be unwise to be intentionally hostile and noninclusive toward the nation’s representatives. It doesn’t reflect well on our administration during a period of peace. Pence should look to how South Korea has been acting to get an idea of how the U.S. should communicate with North Korea.

South Korea is one of the United States’ closest allies. It shares many of the ideologies the United States has about the North Korean threat. But South Korea seem to realize that the Olympics may be a chance to decrease the threat of a nuclear strike from their closest neighbor.

This explains why North Korea and South Korea have decided to combine forces for some sports, including women’s hockey. The two countries also marched together under a unified flag at the Games’ opening ceremony. The two countries, which have been at odds for years, have also agreed to engage in peace talks with each other.

The outcome of these discussions will most likely not be peace between the two nations. There should never really be peace when North Korea has a ruthless dictator in power. As long as Kim Jong Un is in charge, the two countries should not be close to peaceful reunification.

But marching under a unified flag at the Olympic is a step in the right direction. It’s both a surprising and admirable move by both the Korean governments and displays the yearn that both countries have for reunification. It’s just a shame that the political ideologies are so different.

The United States should take note of South Korea’s openness during the Olympics. Pence has made it clear that he doesn’t want peace talks with North Korea until they agree to denuclearization. North Korea has absolutely no intention of giving up its nuclear arsenal anytime soon.

It’s also not as if North Korea is willing to listen to what the United States has to say either. President Donald Trump has made his discontent with the country and its leader clear through several Twitter rants. The president’s diplomacy has not been the greatest since he assumed office.

Which is why Pence’s attendance is an opportunity for the Trump administration and the United States. He’s more of a politician than Trump, and has the potential to be a better diplomat. So far, though, he’s reiterated the United States’ aggressive stance against North Korea, and it doesn’t look like he has any intent to be an ambassador.

But perhaps the United States can attempt to add some humanity to the entire situation. The leaders of both countries have never met in person and have stuck to using the internet as their main form of communication, which means the words being thrown around don’t have a physical face to attribute them to.

The Olympics are an opportunity for both countries to attempt to comfort their populations. Threats have been thrown around plenty in the past year, but coming to a joint agreement to at least cease nuclear threats would be a powerful move for the U.S.

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