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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, February 19, 2018

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South raises North Korean flag despite laws prohibiting it

North Korean flag was on display at ice hockey

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SEOUL, South Korea - Despite laws against it, the North Korean national flag was raised in the South on Thursday.

Organisers of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics said that ahead of the games, an exemption was put in place to avoid breaching Seoul's tough national security law and the North Korean red, white and blue flag was raised in the South.

Under South Korea’s security legislation, praising North Korea is illegal and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Further, displaying the North Korean flag in the country is considered a violation.

Despite the 1950-53 Korean conflict ending, the two Koreas are still technically at war as the war ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

However, in a bid to comply with International Olympic Committee protocol that all competing countries' emblems are displayed, prosecutors granted an exemption for Games venues.

Hence, the North Korean flag will be displayed at the award ceremony locations and official athlete accommodation.

On Thursday, at the official opening of the athletes' village, the exemption came into force and the North's flag was duly raised.

However, all the flags from the other countries were raised a day prior.

Official ceremonies welcoming each participating country's athletes to their accommodation will begin on Monday.

At these ceremonies, flags of all countries will again be hoisted and their national anthems played.

Organising committee spokeswoman Lee Ji-Hye said that on Thursday, South Korean military honour guards were mobilized for the events even though civilian volunteers will be used for the North's ceremony.

Ji-Hye did not provide reasons for the same, and a report in the Yonhap news agency said it would be improper for South Korean soldiers to salute the enemy's symbol.

Previously, North Korea’s flag was first hoisted in the South in 2003.

At the time, North Korea sent athletes to the Daegu Universiade and was run up at the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships and 2014 Asian Games, both in Incheon. 

Then, last year, the North Korean flag was on display at a women's ice hockey match between the two Koreas in Gangneung.

At the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, a total of 22 North Korean athletes are taking part in the Games, including 12 members of a unified women's ice hockey team.

BNN

 

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