Updated September. 16, 2013 04:09
South Koreas national anthem was played and its flag raised in North Korea for the first time since the prolonged division of two Koreas.
At the 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship held at Yukyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang on Saturday, Kim Woo-shik (Suwon City Hall) and Lee Yeong-gyun (Goyang City Hall) won gold and silver medals, respectively, in mens junior 85-kilogram class. At the award ceremony for the two medalists, two South Korean national flags were raised and the South Korean national anthem was played. North Korean audience members all stood up, and watched the South Korean national flag Taegeukgi. Foreign media footages of the event showed images of North Korean audience who shift their sight to the front, as if they feel uncomfortable directly staring at Taegeukgi.
Lee Jae-gwang (Goyang City Hall) also won a silver medal in mens junior 94-kilogram class, and Kwon Ye-bin (Suwon City Hall) acquired the bronze medal in the womens junior 69-kilogram class. As a result, Taegeukgi was raised at three award ceremonies during the event in the North.
Earlier at the opening ceremony of the championship on Thursday, members of the South Korean delegation were holding Taegeukgi in their hands when entering the venue. South Korean delegations had attended athletic events in North Korea several times, including the youth friendly championship held in Pyongyang in October 2008, but it is the first time that Taegeukgi has been raised at an official event in the North.
Until recently, Pyongyang had strongly banned raising Taegeukgi within the North. As for the South-North Korea match of the Asian qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup South Africa soccer finals, which was to take place in Pyongyang in 2008, the North rejected raising of Taegeukgi and playing of the South Korean national anthem, and as a result, the match took place in Shanghai, China.
Experts on North Korea said, The North showed reconciliatory gesture at this championship by sending an official letter confirming assurance of the South Korean delegations safety and allowing raising of Taegeukgi and playing of the national anthem to the (South) Korea Weightlifting Federation. The move is the Norths expression of commitment to improve relations with the South in exchange on culture and sports, following the resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Park and the reunion of separated families.