In an interview, she said some of the resentment about the joint team stemmed from the competitive nature of South Korean society. “Preferential treatment exclusively given to certain group of people can easily antagonize young people here, who are struggling every day to excel in schools and job markets,” she said.

Public opinion bears this out. In one of the first polls conducted after the announcement of the North’s participation, nearly 80 percent favored the decision. But after the flap about the hockey team, a majority, 58.7 percent, opposed formation of the joint hockey team, while 37.7 percent supported it. But on the issue of the North and South marching under one flag into the Olympics, there was majority support, with 51 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

Meanwhile, despite the pro-engagement mood in the country, South Korea’s vocal right wing has been busily castigating Moon for his opening to the North. In a sign of the right’s intense hostility to any sign of cooperation with the North, conservative protesters tried to disrupt the public inspections of South Korean facilities by Northern officials visiting Seoul and attacked the Moon government as dominated by communist sympathizers.

The opposition to the North is led by Hong Jun-pyo, leader of the Liberty Korea Party, which split from the ruling party last year over the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. He was the leading conservative in the presidential elections last May, garnering 24 percent of the vote to Moon’s 41 percent in the five-way race.

“The Pyeongchang Olympics are being twisted into the Pyongyang Olympics through the manipulation of Kim Jong-un’s disguised peace offensive,” Hong declared early on, adding that Moon wants to manipulate the Olympics politically so he can “pass a socialist constitution.” (“Such ridiculous red-baiting defies logic,” the liberal Hankyoreh editorialized in response. “These attempts to present the Olympics as a communist event because of North Korea’s participation could make us an international laughingstock.”)

The dissent, which has been unusual for the popular Moon, has been seized on and exaggerated by the US media as a sign of Korean hostility to his engagement policies toward the North. Last week, for example, The New York Times ran a story about the response to a North Korean delegation to Seoul entitled “Protesters in Seoul Burn Image of Kim Jong-un During North Koreans’ Visit.” The alarming headline and the story itself gave a false impression of a near-riot of Seoul citizens against the North.

But the piece, which was datelined Hong Kong, failed to mention that the fiery protest involved only a handful of people and was led by Representative Cho Won-jin of the one-seat Patriotic Party of Korea. Apparently the reporter didn’t know that Cho’s party is so extreme that it broke with the conservative Hong last year over Park’s impeachment and considers Moon to be an illegitimate president.

Partly in response to the rightist protests, on Tuesday North Korea said it was canceling a joint cultural event the two governments were planning in the North to celebrate the Olympics in early February. This action “brings inter-Korean relations, which have been showing signs of improvement recently, to a crucial crossroads,” Hankyoreh reported.

Pyongyang’s cancellation was also a response to South Korean officials’ saying they were concerned about reports that North Korea was planning to stage a military parade in Pyongyang on February 8. That date, one day before the opening ceremony at the Olympics, marks the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

The parade “is likely to be a quite intimidating event involving a significantly large number of soldiers and nearly all the weapons at North Korea’s disposal,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon declared. But in a significant aside that seemed to indicate Seoul’s deeper interest in peace talks, he noted that the US-South Korean military exercises opposed by the North had been rescheduled for March 25. “The key is to lead the US and North Korea to initiate dialogue under those circumstances and during that time,” he said.

There were no such signals from Washington, where the events in Korea were used by hard-liners to buttress their belief that Moon is being manipulated by Kim Jong-un. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham set the pace on January 17, when he declared that “the signals” South Korea is sending to North Korea are “undercutting what Trump is trying to do.”

In fact, like Trump’s speech, the White House has by and large ignored the Korean Olympics thaw. In January, just as the Olympics talks were getting under way, the Pentagon and the US Air Force deployed nuclear-armed B-52 Stratofortress bombers and B-2 Stealth bombers to the US base in Guam, where the US fleet of conventional B1-B bombers has been stationed during the crisis.

This was only the second time in history that the three kinds of aircraft had been together in one place, Navy Times reported. They are there to reinforce the US Pacific Command’s “continuous bomber presence mission” aimed at North Korea, US officials said.

The same day, Representative Mac Thornberry, the Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee, informed reporters that the US military was conducting “very serious” training for a military conflict with Pyongyang. The Trump administration is “looking at what would be involved with military options when it comes to North Korea,” he said.

Vice President Mike Pence, who will attend the Pyeongchang Games as Trump’s representative, added to the tensions on January 23 by accusing North Korea of trying to “hijack the Olympics…in terms of optics and messaging.” His comment, and the Pentagon’s deployment of its nuclear-armed strategic bombers to the region, prompted a senior North Korean official to contact the Washington Post journalist who reported it, Jenna Johnson.

In an interview with Johnson, Pak Song-il, North Korea’s UN ambassador, accused Trump of advocating “confrontation” at what he called “the sacred place of Olympic Games.” He added, “This only shows how weak their motives are and how shameful their ways of thinking are.”

Meanwhile, even as Trump was speaking Tuesday night, cooperation on the peninsula continued. On Wednesday, the two Koreas announced they will stage four joint taekwondo demonstrations in South Korea on February 7 to celebrate the Olympics. “The North Korean squad will travel to the South by land, across the border,” Yonhap reported.

Symbolically, that crossing will speak volumes: That border is the most militarized dividing line in the world today.