Olympic speed skating and Donald Trump


Dutch speed skating fans' on Donald Trump

Today, the speed skating races of the Winter Olympics in Korea started. The Dutch fans on this photo were at the first race: 3000 meter for women.

In that match, all three medals, gold, silver and bronze went to Dutch skaters.

The fans had predicted that well on their banner. The sign jokes about United States President Trump‘s ‘America First policy‘.

Sometimes, sports authorities ban political allusions by spectators. Good that that did not happen with this banner in Korea.

This is a Dutch video with speed skater Carlyn Achtereekte; of 8 February 2018, two days before she became the surprising gold medal winner.

This video is about today, about Ms Achtereekte winning gold, and her two Dutch team mates silver and bronze.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump, Pence Rain on Koreas’ Olympic Unity Parade

9 February 2018

In a show of unity, athletes from North and South Korea marched at the Winter Olympics‘ Opening Ceremony under the same flag. But the Trump administration is doing its best to thwart hopes for peace on the peninsula, says Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ.

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Korea, peaceful Olympics, lethal nuclear weapons


This video from the USA says about itself:

Olympics Begin with Unified Korean Team Marching Together as Trump Continues to Threaten N. Korea

9 February 2018

In Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2018 Winter Olympics have opened, with North and South Korean athletes marching together at the opening ceremonies. The games are seen as a pivotal moment for relations between the two countries, who have been officially at war since 1950.

In an effort to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has sent a 500-person delegation of athletes, musicians and performers to the Olympics. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s influential sister attended today’s opening ceremony and shook hands with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in; the pair are scheduled to have lunch together.

But as the peninsula tries to de-escalate the threat of nuclear war, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned the U.S. is slated to impose another round of sanctions against North Korea.

We speak to Christine Ahn, the founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War.

Winter Olympics starting in South Korea and squirrels


Olympic squirrel, photo by Geert Weggen/WENN

In less than an hour’s time, the Winter Olympics in South Korea will have their official opening ceremony. There will be gold, silver and bronze medals for the numbers 1, 2 and 3 in various matches. No, no pine cones, like for this squirrel.

This squirrel photo and other Olympic squirrel photos are by Swedish photographer Geert Weggen, who put toy skis, toy bobsleds etc. in the snow outside his window and waited till the red squirrels came to play with them.

Meanwhile, before the official opening, sports people have already been active in Korea. The Norwegian curling team unexpectedly beat the Canadian favourites. In the ski jumping qualifications, German and Polish participants did best. Happiness for South Korean spectators as one of their two competitors qualified for the final round, and sadness because the other Korean did not.

Finally, happiness for South Koreans as their curling team beat the USA 9 to 1.

North, South Korean Olympics agreement hinders Trump’s warmongering


This video from the USA says about itself:

Korean Olympic Unity Gives US War Plans a ‘Bloody Nose’

19 January 2018

North and South Korea will march together at the upcoming Winter Olympics, raising hopes of de-escalation. This, amid talk of a new U.S. strategy dubbed “Bloody Nose” and a U.S.-led summit promoting other aggressive steps. Christine Ahn, who organized a counter-summit of women peace activists, explains.

Under the cover of the pre-Winter Olympics thaw between North and South Korea and the momentary lull in the “fire and fury” rhetoric from the Trump White House, there are growing signs that the Pentagon and the CIA are pressing ahead with preparations for a preemptive war against North Korea, including the use of nuclear weapons: here.

The Trump administration, or a powerful military-intelligence faction within it, is pushing for a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea, in the wake of, or possibly even during, the Winter Olympics due to start in South Korea on Friday: here.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE VOWS TOUGHEST ECONOMIC SANCTIONS EVER FOR NORTH KOREA Ahead of this year’s Winter Olympics. [Reuters]

Photos of squirrels preparing for the Winter Olympics: here.

North Korean women band want to play at South Korean Olympics


This music video is called Moranbong Band – My country is the best! [North Korea].

That all-women North Korean band wants to play at the February 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongcheang.

Dutch NOS TV reports that today North and South Korean delegations are again talking about North Koreans going to Pyeongchang. One northern delegate is Ms Hyon Song-wol, the leader of the Moranbong Band. She wants her band to play during the games.

This music video from North Korea says about itself:

North Korean Moranbong Band: The World’s Most Famous Songs (US, Brazil, Russia, France…)

6 May 2017

We have nothing to envy in this world – Kim Hyok

Symphony No. 40, 1st movement – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Rondo alla Turca – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Those Were The Days – Boris Fomin

Dark eyes – Evheniy Grebenka

Isle of Capri – Wilhelm Grosz

Red river Valley – American folksong

Tico -Tico no Fubá – Zequinha de Abreu

Swan lake – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Skaters’ Waltz – Émile Waldteufel

O sole mio – Eduardo di Capua

Radetzky Marsch – Johann Strauss

Carmen Overture – Georges Bizet

Brilliant motherland – Ri Myon-sang

THE rival Koreas agreed today to form their first unified Olympic team and have their athletes parade together for the first time in 11 years during the opening ceremony of next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea: here.

Trump emphasises hostile stance on North Korea: here.

North Korean figure skaters to Winter Olympics?


This 2017 from a figure skating match in Germany shows North Korean couple Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik.

Tomorrow, 9 January 2018, North Korean and South Korean delegates will talk whether these skaters will be able to skate at the Winter Olympics in Pyongcheang in South Korea.

Winter Olympics 2018: the latest battleground between athletes and Trump? Here.

Gabbard: ‘Unacceptable’ false alarm missile warning in Hawaii underscores need for talks with North Korea: here.

Japan’s military sexual slavery and South Korea


This British ITV video says about itself:

2 November 2015

A Chinese “comfort woman” tells ITV News the tale of the brutality she endured at the hands of Japanese invaders during WWII.

By Ben McGrath:

Tensions between South Korea and Japan reemerge over “comfort women

3 January 2018

A task force under South Korea’s Foreign Ministry released new findings on December 27 regarding a December 2015 agreement between Seoul and Tokyo on the historical issue of “comfort women.” The report calls into question the manner in which the accord was reached and has the potential to destabilize South Korean and Japanese relations.

The task force conducted a five-month investigation and found that certain aspects of the negotiations between Seoul and Tokyo were kept secret from the public. It accused the former South Korean administration of Park Geun-hye, which was in power at the time, of failing to take into account the opinions of former comfort women—a euphemism for sex slaves—who are still alive, as well as related civic groups.

Details reportedly withheld from the public included Tokyo’s demands that Seoul not support any groups that would oppose the agreement, provide detailed plans for dealing with a statue honoring those enslaved in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and pledge that Seoul not use the phrase “sexual slavery”. Park’s government said it would work to persuade civic groups to prevent protests and agreed to use the term “comfort women”.

Moon’s government has not rejected the agreement, which Seoul stated in 2015 was “final and irreversible.” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said: “Based on the findings, the government will gather opinions of the victims and others involved going forward with a focus to be placed on a victim-centered approach. In addition, action will be taken carefully in consideration of any impact that it could have on the relations between South Korea and Japan.”

A final decision on the matter is not expected until after the Winter Olympics being hosted by South Korea in February. However, a high-ranking South Korean official quoted by the Yonhap News Agency suggested Seoul could pursue a path of strategic ambiguity to avoid a diplomatic falling out with Tokyo. At the same time, Moon is cautious of moving too close to Japan as he attempts to rebuild economic relations with China.

Following a two-track approach that separates historical disputes from diplomatic and military issues, Moon pledged that despite the task force’s findings, he would “restore normal diplomatic relations for future-oriented cooperation between Korea and Japan.” Seoul is also reportedly making arrangements for a trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who proposed the meeting, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Tokyo in April. Beijing has not yet expressed support.

However, Tokyo reacted negatively to the report. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono called on Seoul to “faithfully” carry out the 2015 agreement, while warning any attempt to revise it would make relations between the two countries “unmanageable.”

The 2015 agreement represented a significant thaw in relations between Tokyo and Seoul at the behest of the Obama administration in Washington, which was concerned that animosity between its two major military allies in Northeast Asia was cutting across preparations for war with North Korea and China.

The Abe government offered a limited apology for the women’s enslavement by the Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s, while pledging to donate 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a fund to be distributed to South Korean victims, 32 of whom are still alive. The deal did not cover women in North Korea, China, the Philippines or other countries where women were also enslaved.

Moon’s approach to this issue is similar to that it had adopted in relation to the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile deployment, part of the US military build-up primarily directed against China. In his campaign for the presidency, Moon exploited public opposition to the comfort women agreement and THAAD to win electoral support. In June, Moon called for a full environmental impact assessment before THAAD could be completely deployed. After posturing as a THAAD opponent, he quickly approved its full installation a month later, pointing to a North Korean missile launch as justification.

However, a dispute in the South Korean ruling class is emerging over this approach, with Moon’s opponents demanding closer relations with Tokyo and Washington as the latter accelerate the current war drive against North Korea. Chang Je-won, party spokesman for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party [the right-wing party of ex-President Park Geun-hye, impeached for corruption and daughter of a military dictator], denounced the task force’s report.

“Amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a strong alliance with the United States and Japan is crucial to protect the country from the nuclear threats from North Korea”, Chang said last week. “The revelation is a poor move that is far removed from resolving the comfort women issue, and can lead to serious security issues.”

The comfort women dispute has been ongoing for nearly three decades following growing public anger over war crimes in the early 1990s. Before and during World War II, the Japanese government and military established a system in which an estimated 200,000 women from its colonies and conquered territories were deceived, coerced and in some cases physically forced into becoming nominal prostitutes.

Poor working class and peasant women were primarily affected, with the first “comfort women” coming from Japan. While some women received or were supposed to receive money for their “services,” this was only to provide a thin veil of legitimacy to a practice where women endured hellish conditions at “comfort stations,” in some cases at the front lines. Many women turned to drug abuse or opted to commit suicide.

The South Korean establishment in the past was undoubtedly well aware of this practice of sexual slavery. Following post-war independence, leading government and military positions were filled with Japanese collaborators who did nothing to address the needs of these women and their families.

The recent visit to Sri Lanka by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono saw governmental confirmation of Sri Lanka’s first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project. A statement from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office revealed that an MoU with Japan to build a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) would be signed in the third week of January. The project to build the FSRU and LNG terminal will be a joint venture by Sri Lanka Ports Authority with both Japan and India, it is learnt: here.