Friday, 20 April, 2018

North and South Korea to march together at Winter Olympics

Olympics Korea moment chance of detente or lost cause Olympics Korea moment chance of detente or lost cause
Kristopher Love | 20 January, 2018, 03:50

The plans still have to be endorsed by the International Olympics Committee and some South Koreans are sceptical, especially about the joint ice hockey team, fearing it could spoil their chances of winning a medal.

"We will concentrate our diplomatic capability on inducing the North and the US enter dialogue process together and endeavor to make a virtuous circle between North-South dialogue and talks between the North and the US", South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told NK News.

Also during Wednesday's talks, the Koreas agreed to march together under the Korea Unification Flag at the opening ceremony on February 9.

"We are turning the Pyeongchang Olympics that we've got into the Pyongyang Olympics", said Hong Joon-pyo, leader of South Korea's main conservative opposition party, adding that Seoul was now "dancing to the tune" of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Also, a joint training will be conducted among the ski athletes at Masikryong Ski Resort in North Korea.

The head of a hugely popular North Korean girl band is visiting South Korea this weekend to check preparations for a trip by a little-known art troupe that she also leads during next month's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, officials said Friday. North Korea has a record of kidnapping Japanese citizens.

His comment came one day after the team's coach told reporters that she was shocked by the development and said it could be harmful to the players, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The latest reconciliation mood flared after North Korea agreed to send a delegation of officials, athletes, cheerleaders, journalists and an art troupe to the Winter Olympics in a major reconciliatory gesture after a year of tension over its expanding nuclear program.

"The South will ensure the safety and convenience of the North's performing squad to the utmost extent", according to the statement.

If Samjiyon's performances in South Korea include any propaganda elements, it risks triggering strong resistance from conservatives in South Korea, where praising North Korea is punishable by up to seven years in prison under a contentious security law.

"We believe that a great symphony will be enthusiastically received", Kwon Hyok Bong, one of the North's negotiators, said as the meeting opened.

The US has stressed it will not only apply pressure economically and diplomatically, but is also ready to issue military threats in a bid to force North Korea to disarm. "And the agreement between South and North Korea must follow the IOC's standards".

Still, she cautioned that the USA military officials and South Korean military and government leaders with whom she met made clear that the communist North is "not refraining from continuing to move forward with their efforts to solve the final problems with being able to nuclearize an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the American homeland".