Chosen as the North Korean flagbearer for the joint Korean march at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, female hockey player Hwang Chung-gum said on Friday that she is hoping for unification of the two countries.
The two Koreas marched together behind the Korean Unification Flag -- a blue Korean Peninsula against a white background -- during the opening ceremony at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on Friday, reports Yonhap news agency.
Hwang is one of the 12 North Korean players on the joint hockey team, alongside 23 South Koreans. After their practice on Friday at Kwandong Hockey Centre -- the team's last one before its opening game against Switzerland on Saturday -- Hwang said she was "pleased" to be a part of the unified team.
"When the North and the South compete as one in the Olympics, I don't think of it just as an athletic competition," Hwang told reporters.
The Koreas have been divided since 1948. They are also technically at war with one another because the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Hwang said she was at a loss for words to describe how she feels about being the flagbearer, only saying, "I was chosen because the whole team had faith in me."
Asked if this is an emotional occasion for her, Hwang said, with a sheepish smile, "Yes, it is."
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