Next year’s Winter Games in South Korea were cast as a potential refuge from the specter of war – but in the current climate, can they still offer respite?

The Olympics have traditionally been cast as a respite from from politics, danger and strife, an opportunity for the world to come together in the spirit of peaceful competition and a reminder that what brings us together as a union of five continents is stronger than what deigns to pull us apart.

Those noble ideals have been at the fore throughout the build-up to next year’s Winter Games, which kick off six months from now in the sleepy resort town of Pyeongchang, South Korea, clustered in the Taebaek Mountains – a scant 50 miles from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that has divided the Korean peninsula for more than six decades. Even as the ever-present tensions between the countries escalated amid North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month and two nuclear bomb tests last year, Pyeongchang loomed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bridge the divide between the neighboring nations.

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