[VIEWPOINT]Bring the Winter games to KoreaThe International Olympic Committee will choose the host city of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games on Wednesday. The Gangwon province city of Pyeongchang is in the running, and its selection would symbolize an important contribution of the Olympic games to peace not only on the Korean Peninsula but also the world.
Human history has come through exchanges of Western and Eastern cultures, marked by festivities of the global village. The Eastern culture traveled on the Silk Road to Europe, and Western culture was brought to the East by ocean. The oriental culture and its love of peace and nature became part of the culture of humanism of the West. The scientific discourse of the Western culture was in turn instrumental in the development of modern civilization of the East.
The spirit of the ancient Olympic games lives on in the modern Olympic games, and it has been the job of the International Olympic Com-mittee to pass on the human desire for world peace and well-being.
As the anticipation mounts for the selection of the 2010 Winter Games host city, the 47 million South Korean people’s effort to bring the festivities to Pyeongchang under the slogan “Peace for All” is in full swing.
South Korea has come a long way since the Korean War 50 years ago, rising from the rubble of war and destruction to become a democratic country making important contributions to the world community. This country of course owes much of that reconstruction and development to the international community that gave it assistance and support.
But the Korean Peninsula remains divided by the Demilitarized Zone running through its waist; it has yet to accomplish a decisive unification of the two Koreas. South Korea’s effort to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Pyeong-chang is in part intended to exert a positive influence on the destitute North Korea and its drive for nuclear armament. It would be an opportunity for the Koreans’ desire to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the world to be reinforced by the spirit of the Olympic games.
South Korea hosted the 24th Summer Olympic Games in 1988, helping to narrow the ideological schism of the superpowers during the Cold War. Last year, South Korea also successfully co-hosted the World Cup soccer championship with Japan, presenting the world community with a message of peace and harmony. The two events were festivals not only for the Korean people but also opportunities for all humanity to come together in a meeting of cultures and to reaffirm the preciousness of peace and human lives.
Building on that proven contribution to world peace, South Korea is again hard at work to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Pyeongchang, where people live in harmony with nature. The entire nation is behind the effort, including President Roh Moo-hyun and his commitment and support to again help realize the spirit of the Olympics here.
The games will also be an opportunity to shed new hope for the fortified border that separates the two Koreas. It will be a boost to the railroad project that the two Koreas are working on together that will link the divided countries and become a new passage through Eurasia to Europe for cutting-edge information technology. The Korean desire and effort for peace will be highlighted to the world, becoming another opportunity to bring the international community closer together.
Korea was once a glittering center of Eastern civilization. Now the two Koreas are together trying to play the role of furthering the spirit of the Olympics by enhancing world peace. The North Korean leadership and its athletic community have pledged their commitment to work with us in making the 2010 Winter games an opportunity to help bring further reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
Koreans are looking to Prague, Czech Republic, for the International Olympic Com-mittee’s decision to make the Olympic flame light up in the Pyeongchang sky.
* The writer is the superintendent of schools of the Gangwon province Office of Education. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Han Jang-su