The unified Korean women's hockey team is struggling on the ice but is still succeeding in its mission

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  • The unified Korean women’s hockey team has lost both of its first two games, 8-0.
  • Even with the tough losses, the team has been one of the most memorable stories of the Olympics thus far, coming together at the last minute and taking the ice under the Korean Unification Flag.
  • The team still has a chance to secure a win in front of the Pyeongchang crowd before the games come to an end.

The unified Korean women’s ice hockey team is one of the biggest stories of the 2018 Winter Games.

With 23 players from South Korea and 12 from North Korea, the team is one that will be remembered for years to come, although not for its performance on the ice.

Just a few days into their Olympic campaign, the unified Korean team has lost both its games by a score of 8-0. Still, there’s reason for the team to celebrate, and players and coaches alike seem encouraged by how the team has fared so far.

The unified team was little more than an idea up until just over a week before the games began. 29-year-old Sarah Murray, the head coach of the South Korean national team, found out that she would be adding 12 players from North Korea to her roster on January 25, and that she would have to dress and play three of them every game of their Olympic schedule. The team even had to create its own abridged dictionary of hockey terms in order to help players communicate with one another on the ice.

“It was out of our control, but I have to say we’re really enjoying working with the North Korean players,” said Murray, per USA Today. “There were rumours in July of a combined team, but then the government stopped talking about it. I really wish it would have happened in July, but the chemistry on this team is better than I ever would have predicted.”

While the team surely would have enjoyed a better outcome, the team is still a success in terms of showing Korean unity. IOC president Thomas Bach said as much to the team after their first game, saying “You’re part of something bigger. This is not just a hockey game.”

South Korean support of the team wasn’t great heading into the games, with some dismissing the unified team a mere publicity stunt. But some fans at the games are seeing the value in the joint effort. Per NBC News:

“I am South Korean, and although our country is divided, I think we are the same people,” said Do Yeon Lee, 14, of Seoul, who travelled to these Olympics just to watch the Korean women play. “It’s like an honour to be here.”

The team still has a few more game to play before their Olympic campaign comes to an end – a strong showing or even a win in front of the Pyeongchang crowd would be one of the biggest upsets of the games.

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