[EDITORIALS]Keep politics out of DaeguDedicated to goodwill among university students from around the world, the 2003 Summer Universiade opened yesterday. The event has drawn athletes from 172 countries to Daegu. The games are an opportunity not only for the people of Daegu but also for Korea as a whole to extend a welcome to every one of the athletes so that the festival of the world’s youth becomes a memorable occasion. That is the natural role of the host and a sure way to hold a successful event.
But it is worrisome that there are indications an atmosphere harmful for extending such hospitality is being created. The problem is with the contradictory reactions in our society toward the athletes and cheerleaders representing North Korea. The media in particular are engaging in excessive coverage of the North Koreans. Paying too much attention to them can compromise the spirit of the event. The media saturation in this case likely stems from an interest in people with whom we share a heritage, but the attention must not come across as a relative ignorance of our guests from the 170 other countries. We must remember to show equal hospitality to every one of the countries participating.
There are surely people who disagree with the North Korean regime, but they must refrain from displaying their opinion by defacing the North Korean flag during the games or acting in other ways that provoke the North. Pyeongyang showed a capricious reaction to a protest against its regime here last week, but the North Koreans are now our guests. We must display maturity by putting aside our view on the North since they participated after President Roh Moo-hyun apologized. The North Koreans will surely take home a lesson from our open-mindedness.
We should not fight among ourselves with our guests watching. And the North Koreans must not try to turn the event into a promotion of their political beliefs. Their remark upon arriving here about “an attempt to disrupt by some impure elements” in the South was out of line. As the games’ slogan says, this should be an opportunity for the two Koreas to “transcend boundaries and differences” through sports.