When asked on Wednesday to recount her favorite memory of having been with North Korean teammates at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, South Korean forward Randi Heesoo Griffin didn't have to think for long.
"In the dining hall (at the Olympic Village) two days ago, I saw the North Koreans in lineup at McDonald's and I was also in line at McDonald's," Griffin said at a press conference at Team Korea House in Gangneung, breaking into a grin. "They were getting Oreo McFlurries for breakfast. We all laughed about that and had McFlurries together for breakfast."
|Park Jong-ah, captain of the joint Korean women's hockey team, speaks at a press conference at Team Korea House inside Gangneung Olympic Park in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 21, 2018. (Yonhap)|
Griffin was one of four South Korean players at the press conference, held a day after the Olympic tournament ended for the joint Korean team. The 23 South Korean players were joined by 12 North Koreans only a couple of weeks before PyeongChang 2018, and throughout the competition, just how the players from the two sides would get along off the ice drew far more interest than how they would actually play together on the ice.
Goalie Shin So-jung said she didn't at first know what to make of the situation when it was decided that the teams would be combined so close to the Olympics. She said she tried to just focus on preparations for the Olympics and it didn't take long for the players to come together off the ice.
"My favorite memory is the time when we first dined together," Shin said. "We just went on talking like any other girls our age, asking each other who had boyfriends and who lived where."
|Shin So-jung, No. 1 goalie of the joint Korean women's hockey team, speaks at a press conference at Team Korea House inside Gangneung Olympic Park in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 21, 2018. (Yonhap)|
During the Olympic tournament, the joint team had one day off without any training at all and head coach Sarah Murray took the team out to the beach in Gangneung. Marissa Brandts, a Korean-born adoptee, recalled it was "a fun day" and the players "just hung out and got to know each other better."
Park Jong-ah, the team captain, said her favorite part of being on the joint team came before the Olympics -- an exhibition game against Sweden on Feb. 4. It was the inaugural game for the joint team.
"I think I'll always remember playing the very first game as the combined team," Park said. "Even more than our first match at the Olympics, I think that game against Sweden will stay with me longer."