The South Korea and North Korea women’s hockey teams clashed on Thursday in a rare sporting event between the two nations.
South Korea defeated their northern counterparts 3-0 after scoring two early power-play goals. The game was held in South Korea, just an hour away from the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.
“It is meaningful to play against the North Korean team on Korean soil,” 16-year-old South Korean forward Lee Eun-Ji told reporters after the game.
The game was part of the women’s world ice hockey championships division II group A—a test event for next year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The North Korean team kept their heads down as the South’s anthem was played after the game.
However, all players from both teams did pose for a photo afterwards.
“Most of the (North Korean) players looked like they cried so it was difficult for us to approach them after the game,” said South Korean blueliner Park Ye-Eun.
[More from Excelle Sports: U.S. women’s hockey players showing they’re irreplaceable]
The North Korean players did not comment to the media after the game.
Thursday’s game marked the first time the two countries have faced off on the ice in 11 years. Before the game, roughly 500 white-uniformed cheerleaders, ranging in age from students to the elderly, performed an exuberant display with pro-unification flags.
“It’s a reflection of the people’s high hopes and expectations,” said Lee Sun-Kyung, leader of the group that organised the cheerleading team.
The crowd also chanted “Go Korea! We are one!” several times throughout the game.
The two countries are still technically in conflict, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice treaty as opposed to a peace treaty, and relations between the country have plunged over the last several months. On Wednesday, North Korea launched a ballistic missile and reportedly held a sixth nuclear test.
The South Korea women’s soccer team is also scheduled to play North Korea in an Asian Cup qualifying tournament on Friday.