This photo of two gymnasts — one from North Korea, the other from South Korea — may already be the most iconic photo of the Rio Games.
North Korea’s Hong Un Jong is a veteran Olympic athlete who won her country’s first gymnastics medal when she took home the gold in vault at the Beijing Games, CNN reports. South Korea’s Lee Eun-Ju is making her Olympic debut. And at a women’s gymnastics training session on Thursday, August 4, the two women were seen posing for a selfie together.
North and South Korean citizens rarely make contact because the countries have been at war for decades, even though an armistice is currently in place.
North Korean athletes are also strictly supervised at the Olympics. In Beijing, the athletes were reportedly not allowed to leave their private Olympic compound except for training and athletic events, and in London, members of the country’s women’s soccer team were not allowed to give interviews to the media. Some reports even indicate that athletes who fail at the games end up in prison camps.
But in Rio, at least for a moment, two gymnasts put politics aside and found unity through their shared love of sports. The image is resounding with Olympics fans in a big way:
North Korea meets South Korea and they smile and take a selfie. Maybe global leaders should take up gymnastics. pic.twitter.com/FDidmNYis9
— Mike Covell (@MikeCovell) August 9, 2016
And, as CNN points out, Lee and Hong’s selfie is the perfect embodiment of one of the Olympics’ fundamental principles: “placing sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”
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