Tokyo -- as a weak team, South Korea's scrappy women's ice hockey team has worked hard to win the right to challenge stronger and more experienced opponents at next month's winter Olympics in pyeongchang, South Korea.
Over the years, the team efforts to unify the players - the team include a player from the United States, and one for the Korean nationality of American players - but to their disappointment, the team suddenly became the victim of the geopolitical: as a kind of sports diplomacy grand gesture, north and south Korean government last week agreed to send a joint at the winter Olympic Games women's hockey team.
The south Korean government sees the team as a springboard for negotiations that could slow down the north's nuclear program, but the south Korean players said they were disappointed by the last-minute decision to add north Korean players to the team.
All of us have had to give up some things in life, but we have been working towards one goal: playing in the Olympics, goalkeeper Shin so-jung began on Friday in an interview with the newspaper Chosun Ilbo. "We can put up with it because we are proud to represent our country. That's why we're so miserable right now."
“我们所有人都不得不放弃生活中的一些东西，但我们一直在朝着一个目标努力：在奥运会上打比赛，”守门员申苏贞（Shin So-jung，音）周五在接受《朝鲜日报》(Chosun Ilbo)采访时首先表示。“我们可以忍受这一切，是因为我们为自己能够代表国家参赛感到自豪。这也是我们现在如此痛苦的原因。”
The women's ice hockey team will be the first inter-korean team to compete in the Olympics. The last time north and south Korean players played on the same team was at the 1991 international table tennis and youth soccer championships.
On Wednesday, north and South Korea also agreed to let their athletes march under one flag at the opening ceremony on Feb. 9.
On Saturday, officials announced that 12 north Korean players would be added to South Korea's Olympic women's ice hockey team, and that three of them would have to play each game, so some south Korean players worried about playing less time or being benched for certain games.
It's hard to accept because the players have earned their place and they think they're qualified for the Olympics, Sarah Murray, the women's ice hockey coach, told the south Korean news media last week. "The players said in June, don't make them a political statement, they just want to play," Murray added. "I agree with them."
In South Korea, criticism of the government's decision to send a joint inter-korean team has eroded the popularity of President Moon jae-in, who has publicly supported north Korea's inclusion in the south's ice hockey team.
His approval rating has fallen to 67 per cent, a 16-week low, according to the latest Gallup poll. A poll conducted in South Korea last week also showed that many respondents disapproved of the decision to add north Korean players to the Olympic squad.
South koreans have expressed sympathy for their hockey players on social media and in petitions addressed to the blue house. "I don't think an athlete's career should be sacrificed for an event," Facebook user Jaeeok Kim wrote. A petition submitted to the blue house's website against the inter-korean team received more than 50,000 signatures.
Can abstract values like 'peace' and 'unity' be put above individual freedom? "One person commented on the petition. "Korea is an unfettered liberal country, not a socialist country. I hope the government will not force personal sacrifice."
Lee min-ji, who lost out to a naturalized Korean Canadian player in the competition and lost his chance to compete in the Olympics, posted a lengthy statement on Instagram complaining about north Korea's "extremely unfortunate" decision to join the team, but quickly deleted the post.
How could anyone think that athletes would embrace this situation, Mr. Li wrote, "especially when every athlete could be a victim?"
Most are teenagers, some of whom have battled injuries, endured long commutes and grueling training, and suffered humiliating defeats.
South Korea's ice hockey team is ranked 22nd in the world, and many on the team believe the decision to unite with the north Korean players is fundamentally disrespectful. No one ever considered starting a men's hockey team.
Last week, South Korea's prime minister, Lee ak-yeon, caused outrage by saying that the women's ice hockey team had no hope of winning a medal anyway, implying that sporting unity could be sacrificed for political unity. He later apologized for the comment.
Some analysts said the decision was indeed sexist. "To a certain extent, there is a gender perception that women's sports are not that important and can be used in such soft cultural encounters," said Benjamin Young, a doctoral candidate in recent north Korean history at George Washington University. "The south Korean government will not form two inter-korean teams, male and female. They are making it clear that they are sexist. Naturally I can understand why the team's athletes, coaches and the public are frustrated."
一些分析人士表示该决定确实是有性别歧视的。“一定程度上，这有种女子运动并没那么重要、能被用于此类软文化接触的性别观念，”乔治·华盛顿大学(George Washington University)朝鲜近代史的博士生候选人本杰明·杨(Benjamin Young)说道。“韩国政府不会组建男女两支朝韩联队。他们这算是在向众人昭示他们的性别歧视了。我自然能够理解为什么团队的运动员、教练和公众会感到沮丧。”
Some analysts say creating a sense of unity and moving the peace process forward is more important than the team's disappointment.
The public how to sacrifice for us young south Korean women's Olympic dream is so, I think, is another kind of political has a special purpose, the purpose is to subvert pyeongchang winter games is the fact that promote the peace process, Seoul's University of xijiang (Sogang University), a psychology professor at the graduate school of education sports Zheng Rongzhe (Chung Yong -,) said. "All those people who are saying how unfair it is to ask them to give up their spots don't know what hockey is until this thing comes out."
“公众对我们如何牺牲年轻韩国女性的奥运梦想如此哗然，我想，是另一种有着特殊目的的政论，目的是要颠覆平昌冬奥会正在推进着和平进程这个事实，”首尔西江大学(Sogang University)教育研究生院体育心理学教授郑荣哲（Chung Yong-chul，音）说。“所有那些在说要他们放弃名额有多么不公平的人，在这个事情出来之前都不知道冰球是什么。”
South Korean players are currently in final training for the games, which will begin next month. They wore black training uniforms with a slogan: "make Korea proud."