[EDITORIALS]Create a flag rule that flies

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[EDITORIALS]Create a flag rule that flies

North Korea has announced that it will participate in the Asian Games in Busan to be held in less than two months. Along with the news of the North's participation come inevitable complications, such as the question of whether the North Korean flag will be allowed to officially fly and whether its national anthem will be allowed to be played. We hope that this problem is dealt with in an international perspective and on the basis of reciprocity.

Following international rules, South Korea, as the host country of the Games, must allow the North Korean flag to be flown in certain places, such as stadiums and the athletes' village. This goes also for the raising of the North Korean flag and for the playing of the North Korean anthem during medal ceremonies.

However, under the present national security act, North Korea is still an outlaw entity and any praise or encouraging acts directed toward the North are considered felonies. Under present law, forming a "North Korea supporters" group and waving North Korean flags while rooting for North Korean teams is also an illegal act. The gap between what the law decrees wrong and the public sentiment that there should be nothing wrong in cheering for one's brothers and sisters could cause a war of attrition. Just as a North Korean flag was flown on the Seoul National University campus, causing a divisive clash, the same could happen outside the stadiums during the Asian Games, creating tension within South Korean society.

There are some 50 days left to the Asian Games. It is not too late to hold a working-level meeting with North Korea to discuss these seemingly trifle but extremely important questions and perhaps come up with a solution based on the principle of reciprocity that would grant the North Korean team the same treatment that the South Korean team would receive if it were to visit North Korea.

North Korea's decision to participate in the Asian Games is a significant move on its part to shed its Cold War thinking. To continue that progress and to further encourage the ice-breaking, steps should be taken to establish reciprocal respect between the North and South.

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