Although efforts are still being made to bring athletes from North Korea to the Olympic Games in South Korea next month, the prospects look dim.
Just how dim can be seen from the failure of the two sides to agree even on the number of representatives to attend a proposed parliamentary meeting on the issue, let alone their identity or the agenda.If the impasse persists, North Korea will join only Albania, Cuba, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and the Seychelles in boycotting the summer games. It will be no great loss, since a record 161 nations are still scheduled to compete at Seoul.
That is, it will be no great loss athletically. But politically, it is another matter. If Pyongyang and Seoul can't agree to share the Olympics, it's hard to see how they can agree to share anything else. Consequently, the impasse over the games dashes hopes about the prospects for any national reunification of the North and the South, at least in the near future.
For this deadlock, Pyongyang bears the blame. Though South Korea made at least three different concessions, North Korea did not even offer the appearance of being accommodating, let alone the reality.
Maybe the mere fact that North and South Korea met informally on the Olympics can be considered something of an accomplishment after a three-year break in talks between Pyongyang and Seoul over broader issues. But clearly there must be major changes in Pyongyang before major progress toward accommodation between the two states can be made.