24 South Koreans Say What They Really Think About North Korea

“Dangerous and naughty but family.”

“North Korea, who are you guys? Can we be friends?”

"North Korea, who are you guys? Can we be friends?"

BuzzFeed

“NK & SK: We love each other, I guess…”

"NK & SK: We love each other, I guess..."

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed

“Now we seem far away but I hope we can be friends later on.”

"Now we seem far away but I hope we can be friends later on."

BuzzFeed

“NK: Dangerous and naughty but family.”

"NK: Dangerous and naughty but family."

BuzzFeed

“We were one. Now we are two.”

"We were one. Now we are two."

BuzzFeed

“So scared.”

"So scared."

BuzzFeed

“The situation is very uncomfortable, uncertain, and dark. I hope spring comes soon.”

"The situation is very uncomfortable, uncertain, and dark. I hope spring comes soon."

BuzzFeed

“Kim Jung-un.”

"Kim Jung-un."

BuzzFeed

“Now we are enemies but in the future can we be family?”

"Now we are enemies but in the future can we be family?"

BuzzFeed

“We definitely need more cultural interaction and less military conflict.”

"We definitely need more cultural interaction and less military conflict."

BuzzFeed

“The reality is kind of sad. The joint entrance and the flags (at the opening ceremony) was moving.”

"The reality is kind of sad. The joint entrance and the flags (at the opening ceremony) was moving."

BuzzFeed

“It’s heartbreaking that our country is divided. I love the North Koreans with all my heart. We are one.”

"It's heartbreaking that our country is divided. I love the North Koreans with all my heart. We are one."

BuzzFeed

“Although it seems dangerous right now, I think there will be reunification one day. Go team Korea!”

"Although it seems dangerous right now, I think there will be reunification one day. Go team Korea!"

BuzzFeed

“Enemy state.”

"Enemy state."

BuzzFeed

“I hope we can step away from political ideology and be reunited peacefully.”

"I hope we can step away from political ideology and be reunited peacefully."

BuzzFeed

“From PyeongChang Olympics to reunification!”

"From PyeongChang Olympics to reunification!"

BuzzFeed

“It’s hard to answer because it’s a sensitive issue. It’s hard to trust North Korea and what they are doing. It’s quite worrisome. I hope that they stay truthful.”

"It's hard to answer because it's a sensitive issue. It's hard to trust North Korea and what they are doing. It's quite worrisome. I hope that they stay truthful."

BuzzFeed

“We are one. We marched in the parade together 11 years ago and it’s very moving to see it happen again.”

"We are one. We marched in the parade together 11 years ago and it's very moving to see it happen again."

BuzzFeed

“Let’s see each other soon! Go Pyeongchang Olympics!”

"Let's see each other soon! Go Pyeongchang Olympics!"

BuzzFeed

“We hope for reunification. We are one. Passion. Connected. Go Pyeongchang Olympics!”

"We hope for reunification. We are one. Passion. Connected. Go Pyeongchang Olympics!"

BuzzFeed

“I hope we can become closer through the Pyeongchang Olympics.”

"I hope we can become closer through the Pyeongchang Olympics."

BuzzFeed

“There were some countries that originally said they weren’t going to participate because of North Korea provocations, but now that they are participating I think it’s going to be a peaceful Olympic games.”

"There were some countries that originally said they weren't going to participate because of North Korea provocations, but now that they are participating I think it's going to be a peaceful Olympic games."

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed

A Unified Korean Olympic Team Walked In The Opening Ceremonies — But These Koreans Weren't Fans

Right-wing protesters burn photos of Kim Jong Un outside of Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Friday night.

Sergei Bobylev / Sergei Bobylev/TASS

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — One of the central focuses of the 2018 Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday night was harmony on the Korean peninsula. In front of an estimated 35,000 spectators in the stands, in frigid conditions, South Korean women's ice hockey player Park Jong-ah and North Korean player Jong Su Hyon brought the Olympic flame up the flight of stairs to the Olympic cauldron.

But outside the stadium, Koreans with a very different attitude toward Korean unification were doing a very different kind of torch-lighting.

A small but rowdy group of several dozen anti-unification activists gathered on a street corner across from the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, clashing with police as they attempted to burn photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. On three different occasions, police had to rush into the crowd and remove someone trying to get their lighter to work in the freezing temperatures. On the third attempt, when the lighter finally caught, police swarmed the demonstration, effectively ending it.

Nam In-soo, the president of the conservative anti–Korean unification group Freedom Korea National Defense Corps, outside of the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Friday night.

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

The protest was another in a series of demonstrations that have been happening all across South Korea in the weeks since it was announced that the two Koreas' women's ice hockey teams would be competing as a unified Korean Olympic team.

“The fact that North Koreans are coming down here is deplorable,” Nam In-soo, the president of the Freedom Korea National Defense Corps, the group organizing the bulk of the anti-unification protests, told BuzzFeed News Friday night. “The fact that Koreans have been preparing for this event for more than 10 years, and the Moon Jae-in government should really listen carefully to Korean people about hosting this Olympics.”

When they learned that BuzzFeed News was an American outlet, the FKNDC members began chanting, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

“We want President Trump to bomb the shit out of North Korea,” Nam said. “North Korea has continued their provocation after the end of the Korean War, so we can't believe them.”

The FKNDC members, who traveled over five hours from Pohang, a city in the south, to voice their outrage over unification, were a small group of older and largely right-wing activists. But their views aren’t actually in the minority right now — according to recent polls, 50% of South Koreans oppose the unified flag. And another survey carried out last month found that the majority of young people in South Korea don’t like the idea of both Koreas sharing the same Olympic team.

Kang Chun-hyok, a North Korean defector turned rapper and artist, stands in front of three of his pieces on exhibit at his Ants Gallery in Seoul, South Korea, last week.

Kassy Cho / BuzzFeed

A week before the opening ceremony, Kang Chun-hyok, a North Korean defector turned artist and rapper, told BuzzFeed News that he thought the unified teams were sort of a PR stunt.

“It will add to more confusion in South Korean society, and it will be used politically eventually,” he said.

Kang escaped North Korea with his family over 10 years ago, and he gained national recognition in South Korea when he performed on the talent show Show Me the Money. In addition to rapping, he’s also an artist, and his art gallery in Seoul held an exhibit last week that featured six of his pieces along with works created by other North Korean defectors.

“I think North Korea is taking advantage of the Olympics,” he said. “It is good to see a united team, but it is being used politically after all, isn't it?”

He said the whole thing reminded him of a line from a South Korean film called Steel Rain. “There is a famous line that is really touching for me: ‘People of a divided country suffer more from those who use the separation for political advantage, rather than the division itself. It is the reality of division and real pain.’”

Protesters outside of the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium raise banners that read “We are AGAINST PYONYANG Olympics!” on Friday night.

Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

The FKNDC and other groups may have seized the combined team as an opportunity to protest, but they didn't appear to be winning over many converts from their position outside the Olympic venue. A young man named Na Byung-joon, who had come up from Seoul to see the ceremony, told BuzzFeed News on Friday that the team was actually pretty cool.

“I'm feeling pretty positive about the combined team,” he said. “I think it's a really good thing long-term.”

Na also said he wasn’t really a fan of the conservative protesters demonstrating in the area.

Blurring the line further, a member of a different anti-Olympics activist group said he actually liked the idea of the Korean peninsula team. Lee Gyung-ryul, a protester with No Olympics Anywhere, said he thought the way the Korean government combined the teams was a little haphazard, but was happy they did it.

“I think it's significant that for the past 10 years, both sides of Korea have not been involved together in any sports events,” he said.

When asked about whether he thought it was weird to be against the Olympics altogether, but be proud of the combined team, he agreed it was weird. “We've actually been discussing that within our organization,” he said.