[EDITORIALS]Playing for regional peace

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[EDITORIALS]Playing for regional peace

The 14th Asian Games, the most important sports festival for Asia's 3.6 billion inhabitants, opened Sunday in Busan with a spectacular ceremony. The Games will continue for 16 days.

For the first time, 9,900 athletes and officials from all 43 members of the Asian Olympic Committee, with the addition of East Timor as a provisional member, are competing. The theme of this year's Games is "New Vision, New Asia."

For the first time in history, North Korea is participating in an international sports competition held in South Korea. North Korea's delegation of 300 athletes arrived with a large-scale support group to participate in 18 events.

The opening ceremony included an emotional scene with North and South Korean athletes entering the stadium, wearing the same uniforms, to the folk song of "Arirang." A South Korean male athlete and a North Korean woman athlete held a symbolic flag for a unified Korea.

This scene, recalling the Sydney Olympics two years ago, demonstrates to the world the determination of the two Koreas to overcome tension and conflict and reconcile as one people.

Afghanistan and Palestine, sending delegates after overcoming civil wars, and the newly created East Timorese delegation, also received a huge applause from the audience.

The countries will compete in 38 events for 419 gold medals. South Korea hopes to finish second in the standings. We hope that South Korea's athletes live up to the dignity that we, as a nation, exhibited at the World Cup in June by competing in fairness with pride. We hope the spectators transcend national differences by applauding winners and encouraging losers.

Above all, there must be no shortcomings in the organization of the games and special attention must be given to security. Small problems, such as delayed collection of records, and transportation and translation errors that occurred at the beginning of the competition, should be corrected with haste.

The North Korean supporters and the South Korean crowd showed a marvelous attitude, cheering in unison at the first North Korean game, played in the day before the opening ceremony. Yet, there still is a need for restraint, particularly when North Korea's flag is flown.

All in all, we hope the Asian Games become a festival of Asians working to lessen tension in the peninsula and to bring peace to the region.
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