“The Pyongyang Olympics” is how some are referring to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. This can be a humorous play on words, drawing our attention to the similarity of the two names. But for most, the phrase sums up the attention that North Korea has received at the Olympics. Like the recent Wall Street Journal editorial, the focus on the North Korean team, cheerleaders, and the attendance of the sister of the North Korean leader, all divert attention from South Korea, the sufferings of the North Korean people, and the atrocities committed by the government of North Korea. “Pyongyang” as the capital of this oppressive regime symbolizes dictatorship, human-rights violations, and suffering.
This was not always the case. It might be difficult to imagine a time when the city and the name “Pyongyang” meant something entirely different. Only a century ago and before Korea was divided into two, Pyongyang was considered “the Jerusalem of the East,” a model of success for missions and the center of a growing Christianity in Korea.