2018 Winter Paralympic Games kick off, DPRK delegation raises eyebrows



With a record number of 570 athletes from all over the world, the largest Winter Paralympics kicked off in PyeongChang, South Korea on Friday with the country’s traditional drum performance.

At 11:00 GMT, the South Korean drummers opened the ceremony for the 10-day events in a series of intense drum beats. Under the theme “Passion Moves Us,” the organizers vowed to present an opening ceremony embodying “the new world of co-existence.”

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games.

“Inspiration, determination, courage and equality” would be emphasized in multiple winter sports, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News.

DPRK and ROK delegations march separately

The delegations entered the arena following the Korean alphabet.

The DPRK delegation parades during the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

Six athletes from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) crossed the border to the Republic of Korea (ROK) as members of the DPRK delegation earlier this week.

It is the first time the DPRK sent out a delegation to the Winter Paralympics. However, failed to reach an agreement during a negotiation, the delegations of the two nations marched separately at the opening ceremony.

The ROK sent out a 36-strong delegation for all the six categories of sports.

Earlier on Friday morning, the International Paralympics Committee voiced disappointment over the decisions of the two National Paralympic Committees but said they respect their decision.

Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA) from Russia during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

Russian athletes again attended as “neutral Paralympic athletes” (NPA), as the country is banned from the events following the alleged state-sponsored doping.

China's largest Winter Paralympics delegation

China has also sent out its largest ever Paralympic delegation, with more than 60 members, including 26 athletes who are expected to compete in 30 events in five categories.

Chinese delegation parades during the opening ceremony at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

Cross-country skier Peng Yuanyuan served as the flag bearer of Team China. Joining the national team of the cross-country skiing in 2005, the 31-year-old Chinese athlete ranked on the fifth place in the women’s standing five-kilometer classic cross-country skiing race during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics, which is the country’s best achievement for the individuals.

The average age for the Chinese athletes is 25, and 21 of the athletes have started practicing for the winter sports after Beijing’s successful bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Dreams and equality highlighted

Hope, dreams, and equality were highlighted in both performances and speeches at the opening ceremony.

IPC President Andrew Parsons (C), his wife Marcela Parsons (L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) attend the opening ceremony.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook attended the opening ceremony. Moon declared the beginning of the PyeongChang Paralympics following the speeches of Lee Hee-beom, president of PyeongChang Paralympics’ organizing committee and International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons.

The performances featured a “Wheel of Passion,” symbolizing the passions leading to equality, harmony, and energy that will extend beyond the boundaries of the division.

Fireworks explode behind the Paralympic cauldron during the opening ceremony.

Six groups of torchbearers completed the final part for the Paralympic flame transferring before the lighting ceremony. With an apparent deliberate selection of the torchbearers, the organizers again emphasized harmony and co-existence of the PyeongChang Paralympics.

Beginning with a group of two athletes respectively coming from the DPRK and the ROK, the torchbearers also saw teams of domestic athletes and foreign coaches, as well as Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

The ROK's Choi Bogue and the DPRK's Ma Yu Chol carry the Paralympic flame during the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony reached a climax with the lighting of the moon-shaped porcelain cauldron, as well as the fireworks around the arena.

During the next 10 days, the 570 athletes from 49 countries will compete for a total of 80 medals in six sports, including alpine skiing, snowboarding, Para-ice hockey, wheelchair curling and the Nordic skiing disciplines of cross country and biathlon.