North and South Korea celebrate peace through taekwondo show

Feb 9, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; North-South taekwondo team performs before the opening ceremony during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Taekwondo athletes from North and South Korea produced a stunning demonstration in Gangwon as sporting diplomacy took centre stage alongside kicking, screaming and flying planks of wood on Saturday.

The event, cheered by the crowd at the Gangwon Career Education Institute in Sokcho, featured teams from both countries performing for 25 minutes before briefly joining together as one.

“We are now going to witness how powerful the sports can bring to promote peace and reconciliation and friendship and harmony between South and North Korea,” former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke before the show began, said.

“Let us promote mutual conciliation and harmony through the power of sport.”

The North Korean taekwondo athletes arrived South this week and performed at the Pyeongchang Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday as part of four performances during their nine-day trip.

The two Koreas remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

However, North Korean athletes are taking part in the Olympics, with the two countries agreeing to field a unified ice hockey team.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond