This Selfie of the North Korea/South Korea Gymnasts Is Why We Have the Olympics

North Korea South Korea Rio de Janeiro Outdoor
by Matt Hershberger Aug 10, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF ALL OF THE CONTROVERSY around the Olympics — from the many crises in Rio to dumb, media-inflated feuds between players, to the corruption of the IOC — it’s easy to forget why we put them on in the first place. But then the games start, and we get stories like this.

North Korea and South Korea are sworn enemies. Tensions between the two countries have been high since the war in the 1950s. North Korea is a totalitarian communist nightmare state, while South Korea is a growing capitalist democracy. To this day, they do not get along.

But that didn’t stop Lee Eun-ju, a South Korean gymnast, and Hong Un-jong, a North Korean gymnast, from getting friendly during the competition.

It was a simple gesture — they merely exchanged greetings and took a selfie together — but it’s a huge one. This is what the Olympics do, at their best. They defuse tension. They promote peace. And they create killer photo ops. Take that, #PhelpsFace.

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