Pine Nuts: My new hero is the president of South Korea |

Pine Nuts: My new hero is the president of South Korea

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

We have to have heroes. My hero of today is a new kid on the block, the newly elected president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in.

“I will become a president, who can retire home as an ordinary citizen and be welcomed by his neighbors,” Moon said in his inaugural speech.

President Moon is a class act, a breath of fresh air on the peninsula. Moon has proposed that the two Koreas join together to create a unified team to compete in next year’s Winter Olympics. Say what? President Moon just could pull off what the United States and China have not been able to pull off, that illusive goal of reducing the threat of hostility from North Korea, which feels itself threatened.

Moon has got the spirit. “I want to feel the Olympic sensation,” he said. Back in 1988, when South Korea hosted the Summer Games the North boycotted.

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But the South was not extending the overtures then that President Moon is making today. President Moon has gone on record as advocating a dialogue of reconciliation with the North. In addition to lighting the Olympic Torch, Mr. Moon might be lighting a candle for peace.

The Olympics represent all that is possible in world relations, and the Olympic Creed indemnifies this spirit, “The important thing is not to win, but to take part.”

The Olympic Rings represent the five continents — the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, interlocked in friendly competition. And did you know the International Olympic Committee has a philosophy?

Me neither, here it is: “The good sportsmanship, sense of fair play, and respect for fellow athletes that is developed through participation in sports teaches men and women of different races, religions, and nationalities to work peacefully together in competition toward common goals. The Olympic Movement works to expand such lessons beyond the sports arena in the hope of promoting peace and a sense of brotherhood throughout the world.”

Who knew?

The Olympic Games might be the most powerful instrument we have to calm a volatile region and pacify an anxious world. President Moon is the right man, in the right job, at the right time. Good luck, Mr. Moon, I, for one, am at your back.

A combination of humility and resolve is key to good governance, and a unified Korean Olympic team might lead to Taekwondo exchanges, cultural exchanges and ultimately, reunification.

As a footnote, I tried out for the Olympic Games in the sport of springboard diving back in 1964, but one of my dives landed so flat that they had to pull me from the pool with a skimmer. The judges were laughing so hard they forgot to hold a card up with a score, and people were seen taking pictures of the colorful oil slick I left on the surface of the water.

But no matter, I went on to Tokyo to see the Olympics as a spectator, and have carried the spirit of the Olympic Games with me ever since.

Every success, President Moon — the world is at your back!

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at


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