NATIONAL

NK offers to send 230-member cheering squad, use land route

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jan 17, 2018 - 08:32
  • Updated : Jan 17, 2018 - 15:27

North Korea on Wednesday offered to send a 230-member cheering squad to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and to use a land route for its delegation's trip to the South, Seoul officials said.

The North made the proposal at the two Koreas' working-level talks on key details about the North's participation in the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games.

Agenda items include the size of the North's Olympic delegation, transportation, costs, a joint appearance at the opening ceremony and a unified women's ice hockey team.

In the morning session, the two sides exchanged views on specifics about the North's athletic delegation and the size of its cheering squad and taekwondo demonstration team, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

They also discussed a joint cultural event at Mount Kumgang in North Korea and the possibility of using Masikryong Ski Resort on the North Korean east coast, it added.

(Yonhap)

For the delegation's trip, the North proposed using a land route in the western part, which leads to the now-shuttered joint industrial complex in the border city of Kaesong.

The ministry earlier said that Pyongyang offered to also send a delegation to the PyeongChang Paralympics, which will be held from March 9-18.

The move came as the two Koreas had a ministerial meeting last Tuesday, in which the North agreed to send athletes and art performers to the Olympics. They agreed to discuss relevant details in working-level talks.

The North's leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare offer of rapprochement to Seoul in his New Year's Day speech following a series of nuclear and missile tests last year.

"Inter-Korean relations have been strained for almost 10 years ... in this regard, we hope that (an era of better) ties can open," Jon Jong-su, the North's chief delegate, said at the start of the meeting.

In response, Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, the South's top delegate, hoped the two Koreas' efforts will make the Olympics a "peace" event and improve their frayed ties.

Before Chun left for the truce village, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told him to consider the government's pursuit of a breakthrough in efforts to improve inter-Korean ties, which could be conducive to denuclearization.

The outcome of Wednesday's talks is expected to be discussed at the International Olympic Committee's meeting with officials from the Koreas slated for Saturday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Key points at Wednesday's talks are whether the Koreas can reach an agreement on whether their athletes will march together at the opening ceremony of the Olympics and whether they will field a joint women's ice hockey team.

The South's government is carefully reviewing ways to greet the North's Olympic delegation in a way that does not violate multilayered sanctions on the communist regime.

Under UN sanctions, the South can't offer cash directly to the North when it supports delegates' accommodation expenses.

Sea travel could be in violation of South Korea's unilateral sanctions that ban the entry to South Korea of any vessel that has sailed to North Korea within the past 12 months.

It is highly likely that North Koreans would travel to the South by land. The North asked the South to allow its art troupe to cross the border via Panmunjom for concerts during the Olympics.

Another sticking point is the North's possible inclusion in its delegation of high-ranking officials blacklisted by UN sanctions or by Seoul's unilateral punitive actions. (Yonhap)

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