[EDITORIALS]'No' to peninsula flag

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[EDITORIALS]'No' to peninsula flag

The government is reportedly reviewing a North Korean proposal that the two countries' national teams would use the Korean Peninsula flag at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Busan Asian Games. Promoting national unity and reconciliation and successfully hosting a large international event are two separate matters. The government should flatly reject Pyeongyang's proposal.

The Asian Games are a sports festival that promotes harmony, unity and cooperation by 3 billion Asians, overcoming the walls created by different religions, ideologies and political systems. As the host, South Korea is responsible for organizing a festival that will embody peace and mutual prosperity through sports. The use of flags should follow accepted international practice; the special situation of the two Koreas should be taken account of only in some special cases.

The majority of South Koreans agree with the principle that North Korea's flag and anthem should be permitted in the Asian Games stadium and at the players' lodging area. That reflects the mature civic consciousness of our society. Organizing a cheering squad for North Korea and providing special monetary and emotional support to North Korean delegates and supporters also show the special characteristics of inter-Korean relations and the desire to expand reconciliation and cooperation of the divided Koreas.

But the opening and closing ceremonies of the event will be aired Asia-wide. If South Korea, the host country, gives up its national flag and enters with North Korea, using the Korean Peninsula flag, that would be a decision to abandon the principles of internationalism. Misunderstanding that a sports festival for Asians is being interfered with by the particular political issue of the Korean Peninsula could arise.

The North Korean flag should be used with some restrictions as a gesture to reconcile the two Koreas. If the North insists on using the peninsula flag, it would be ignoring South Korea's good intentions and established practice. The issue should be closed.
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