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Olympic Spirit Captured in North and South Korean 'Selfie'


Lee Eun-Ju (KOR) of South Korea (R) takes a selfie picture with Hong Un Jong (PRK) of North Korea.

Lee Eun-Ju (KOR) of South Korea (R) takes a selfie picture with Hong Un Jong (PRK) of North Korea.


This is What’s Trending Today.

Lee Eun-ju is a South Korean gymnast. She is representing her country at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Hong Un-Jong is a North Korean gymnast. She is the 2008 Olympic vault gold medalist. Like Lee, she is the only woman gymnast representing her country at this year's Olympic Games.

The two athletes competed in the same session. During a practice, photographers caught the two athletes taking a “selfie” together.

The 17-year-old Lee is seen holding her phone and smiling as 27-year-old Hong leans in for the photo. She is smiling, too.

It was a rare moment of inter-Korean friendship. The photo is being praised for representing the Olympic goals of building peace and understanding between countries.

North Korea and South Korea remain deeply divided. Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January, South Korea ended all business connections and communication with the North.

Yoon Kang-ro is the President of the International Sport Cooperation and Diplomacy Institute in South Korea. He says the Olympics offer the two Koreas a chance to find some common ground.

Yoon said, “One photo doesn’t make any good progress, but I think it’s a good starting point."

People on social media praised the photo for its impact. Ian Bremmer is a political scientist and founder of the Eurasia Group. He tweeted the photo and wrote, “This is why we do the Olympics.”

His post has been retweeted more than 21,000 times.

Twitter user Eugene Cho is a Korean-American. His parents were born in North Korea. He wrote on Twitter that the selfie gave him “hope for a future reunification.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

Brian Padden reported this story from Seoul. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English with additional reporting. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

session - n. a period of time that is used to do a particular activity

lean - v. to bend or move from a straight position

impact - n. a powerful or major influence or effect

common ground - expression. something that people agree about even if they disagree about other things

reunification - n. the process of making something (such as a country) whole again

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