Thursday, 17 October, 2019

North Korea Offers Talk on Art Troupe's Visit to Olympics

KATIMAVIK IS BACK KATIMAVIK IS BACK
Patty Aguilar | 16 January, 2018, 08:34

In talks Tuesday, the North agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea and to hold talks with Seoul to ease military tensions.

North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, meaning this will be the first Olympics they will attend in the South.

North Korea observers say Pyongyang could use such art and music performances to convey a softer image amid tightened global sanctions against the regime's nuclear and missile provocations.

Lee Woo-sung, Seoul's chief negotiator, said the North had asked that the art troupe cross the border by foot via Panmunjom, located in the demilitarised zone where a North Korean soldier staged a daring defection to the South in November. The first is for Pyongyang to arrange the terms of its participation in the Olympics, and second is a rather more strategic goal.

All major inter-Korean communication channels had been shut down amid animosities over the North's nuclear program in recent years.

During its trip in Gangwon Province, the torch will visit Hwacheon, Goseong and other towns that are adjacent to the North Korean border.

This week's thawing of relations came after Kim, in a New Year's Day address, said he wanted his country to compete in the Olympics.

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They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. Not the country that wants to kick people out who've lived here their entire lives.

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South Korea agreed to provide the performance venue and necessary facilities, while North Korea agreed to send its advance team for the performance as rapidly as possible.

South Korea had also said that it is seeking to form a combined women's hockey team with the North.

The North Korean delegation for Monday's meeting included Hyon Song Wol, leader of the all-female Moranbong Band.

South Korea's liberal President Moon who is less confrontational than Trump and favours dialogue to ease the North's nuclear threats has for long viewed the Pyeongchang Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties.

In 1987, a year before the Seoul Olympics, Pyongyang bombed a South Korean passenger jet to try to scare off would-be participants.

It seems that Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, has put into full gear a strategy of winning over South Korea by playing its "Olympic participation" card. It is illegal to cross back into North Korea once in South Korea.

The orchestra, along with singers and dancers, will give performances in Seoul and in Gangneung, a city on the east coast that is the venue to some of the Olympic events, marking the first time in nearly 16 years that a North Korean arts group has performed in the South.

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