Korean delegation in S. Korea to inspect concert venues

Posted January 22, 2018

North Korea will send 22 athletes to next month's Winter Games in the South, the International Olympic Committee said today, and confirmed that the two nations will march together at the opening ceremony.

The seven-member North Korean delegation, led by musician Hyon Song-wol, will check venues for performances by a 140-strong art troupe at the Olympics.

But the North's official Korean Central News Agency hinted at the source of its anger by lashing out at conservatives in South Korea who have argued that the North's Olympic participation could violate United Nations sanctions.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosted a meeting in Switzerland on Saturday to discuss North Korea's participation in Pyeongchang, the BBC reports.

Officials from both Korea's used a cross-border hotline to quickly reschedule the visit.

Paik Hak-soon, the director of the Center for North Korean studies at Sejong Institute in South Korea, said North Korea was using the cheering squad to draw attention to its apparent cooperative spirit.

The reconciliation mood between the Koreas began after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's speech that he was willing to send a delegation to.

Camera IconNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un may try to leverage the Olympics unity to weaken USA sanctions against North Korea.

The two states are also set to march under a joint Unification Flag, which features the whole peninsula and surrounding islands on a blue and white background.

Seoul has proposed a joint ice hockey team, which triggered an angry response from athletes in the South suddenly being told they may have to play alongside total strangers.

Places for two short-track speed skaters, three cross-country skiers, and three Alpine skiers have been added for the competitions at Pyeongchang.

There has been skepticism about Kim Jong Un's offer. Outside critics dismissed Kim's overture as a tactic to use improved ties with Seoul to weaken US -led worldwide sanctions over North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the world should not be naive about North Korea's "charm offensive" over the Olympics.

South Korea's head coach will take the lead, but at least three players from North Korea will join the team.

In another related development, North Korea agreed on Sunday (Jan 21) to South Korea's plan to send an advance team later this week to its ski resort in preparations for joint training ahead of the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics, an official here said.

There is precedent for fielding a joint team in global competition, including at the 1991 football under-20 World Cup, when the two Koreas competed together and even advanced to the quarter finals.