South and North Korea on Monday agreed to make a joint entrance at the Asian Games this year as well as hold cross-border basketball games first in Pyongyang in July, and then in Seoul in fall.
Delegations from the two Koreas met at the Peace House on the South Korean side of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone. The meeting lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., during which the officials agreed on details related to cross-border sports exchanges.
“South and North Korea jointly recognized that sports opened the gates (of inter-Korea relations), as sort of a guide,” said Jeon Choong-ryul, secretary-general of the Korean Sports and Olympic Committee and head of the South Korean delegation, on the meeting.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the two Koreas agreed to hold the first cross-border basketball games in 15 years at the North Korean capital, from July 3-6. The decision, ministry officials said, was in honor of the July 4 Joint Declaration of 1972, which was the first joint declaration of the Koreas after their separation.
The South will send male and female players to the North for an exhibition game against North Korean players, and another game after mixing both sides’ rosters. Subsequent cross-border games will be held in Seoul on an unspecified date in the fall.
A total of 100 people, consisting of players, referees and supporting crew, will visit the North.
Friendly games between the two sides, held as part of sports diplomacy between Seoul and Pyongyang, have been held three times between 1998 and 2003.
The two Koreas also agreed to jointly enter the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games in August under the name “Korea,” abbreviated “COR.”
The players will march under the Korean Unification Flag, which shows the peninsula in a single color, while the traditional Korean folk song “Arirang” plays in the background.
They also agreed to form unified teams for a few events, although the officials did not reveal which ones.
Seoul and Pyongyang also agreed to jointly participate in other international sports event, including the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, while expanding sports exchanges between the two sides. This will include more joint training and games.
The two sides vowed to continue discussing working-level issues about the aforementioned categories.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)