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Rio 2016: South Korean and North Korean Gymnasts Takes Selfies Together

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South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-ju of South Korea and fellow North Korean Hong Un-jong posed for a selfie during the training period before the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The images of the two gymnasts have been widely praised as capturing the Olympic spirit.

North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war with each other and relations between the two countries have been more tense in recent months, with recent missile launches from Pyongyang.

Political scientist Ian Bremmer tweeted: “This is why we do the Olympics.”


Ian Bremmer’s tweet was re-tweeted more than 18,000 times.

Photo Twitter

Photo Twitter

Others hailed it as the “most iconic photo” of the games.

Lee Eun-ju, 17, and 27-year-old Hong Un-jong both competed as individual qualifiers, with the games in Brazil being Lee’s first Olympics.

Hong Un-jong became North Korea’s first gymnast to win a medal at the Olympic Games when she took home the gold in vault in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Many users were quick to point out the contrasting attitudes portrayed by the South and North Korean athlete in comparison to the Lebanese Olympic Team, who allegedly refused to ride on the same bus with Israeli athletes.

According to Udi Gal, a member of Israel’s Olympic sailing team, the organizers intervened and the two teams traveled separately to “prevent an international and physical incident”, he said in a post on Facebook.

“How could they let this happen on the eve of the Olympic Games? Isn’t this the opposite of what the Olympics represents?” Udi Gal said.

Lebanon and Israel are officially at war and have no diplomatic relations.

However, they weren’t the only two countries to get off to a rocky start.

Chinese authorities clashed with Australian Olympic gold medalist Mack Horton, after he called Chinese defending champion Sun Yang a “drug cheat”.

“We think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers,” said China’s swimming team manager Xu Qi to Chinese news outlet Xinhua.

“We strongly demand an apology.”

Users on social media also quickly flooded Mack Horton’s social media with angry comments.