When the North and South Korean hockey teams met for the first time

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In an extract from his book on Korea’s first unified Olympic ice hockey team, Seth Berkman recalls when the players from the North and the South met for the first time

On January 25, a bus carrying the North Korean hockey players crossed into South Korea at 9:21 in the morning. Roads were blocked off for miles to provide an uninterrupted ride, but that did not prevent a horde of news vans and helicopters documenting their path from above and alongside, creating a scene not unlike how American cameras infamously chased OJ Simpson’s white Bronco. After passing through a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine office in Paju, northwest of Seoul, it took about another three hours until the convoy arrived in Jincheon. Bundled up in navy parkas on a sun-filled, although briskly chilly and windy afternoon, the South Korean players lined up and stood waiting outside their training facility. Many were shivering cold in the 18-degree weather but were unable to put their hands in their pockets since they were holding small bouquets of yellow, blue and pink flowers that they had been instructed to give their new teammates upon their arrival. There was no excitement, no anticipation. “I was just thinking if they were going to come, then come quickly,” Han Do-hee said.

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