The figure skater Yuna Kim lit the torch. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The crowning moment of any opening ceremony: the final leg of the torch relay and the lighting of the Olympic caldron. Inbee Park, the golfer, was one of the final torchbearers. Two members of the mixed North and South Korean women’s hockey team, Chung Su-hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea, carried the torch up the stairs. And the hero chosen for the highest of Olympic honors was ... Yuna Kim, the profoundly popular figure skater who won the gold medal in 2010 and the silver in 2014. She is a beloved celebrity in South Korea and often referred to as Queen Yuna.
Athletes from North and South Korea carrying the unification flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The unified Korean team marching out as one. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Unified Korean team heard cheers, but not from all.
A unified Korean team of athletes marched out together carrying the unification flag as the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, watched from the stands near Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader.
The Olympics may have renewed hopes of a unified Korea for some, but attitudes about becoming a single nation again have shifted since the last time South Korea hosted an Olympics, the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. In general, younger South Koreans are less favorable toward reintegrating with the impoverished North. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of South Koreans in their 20s were against reunification. They are more interested in domestic issues, like unemployment, and some feel that reuniting the peninsula would be burdensome for the South.
The cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua of Tonga marching shirtless into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Tonga’s flag-bearer stole the show ... again.
The one-man Tongan team is the cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua. He caused a stir at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he was a taekwondo athlete, by carrying the flag shirtless and greased up. And for these frigid Winter Games ... he has done it again. A startling and perhaps foolhardy display given the weather, but the crowd absolutely roared as he made his way through the stadium. Nobody received a better reception here than Taufatofua.