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Barbed-Wire Chocolate, Stone-Faced Silence And Historic Handshakes At Olympics

Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)MoreCloseclosemore
Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are happening against a backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions with the North.

But at the games, which opened this week, South Korea and North Korea have taken symbolic steps toward a rapprochement. And in one colorful, and sugary, example, they did so with a barbed-wire chocolate.

Rory Carroll, a sports correspondent for Reuters, explained on the NPR show On Point Friday that at a cocktail party for VIPs, organizers served a cookie in the shape of a unified Korean peninsula. Across the middle was chocolate rendered like barbed wire — to represent the heavily fortified area that has separated the two countries since the war in the 1950s that has never officially ended.

“They invited guests to pour white chocolate over the chocolates to erase that barbed wire,” Carroll said.

Also in attendance was the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un; she shook hands with South Korea’s leader.

But although they sat close to each other, she did not interact with Vice President Mike Pence.

“He sat stone faced through much of the opening ceremony, although he stood and applauded for the United States athletes as they entered into the arena,” Carroll said.

Another guest on our show, the South Korea-born novelist and writer Suki Kim, said the younger generation isn’t invested in the sentimentality of the moment.

“To pretend that this PR moment has any depth is nonsense,” Kim said.

For our full show, which also includes talk about Russian doping and the games themselves, click the play button above or follow this link.

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