(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea plans to send a 230-member cheering squad as part of its delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, officials said Wednesday, as South Korea’s president announced his support of a proposal for the rivals’ first unified Olympic team.
The two Koreas have been pressing ahead with a flurry of projects to cooperate in the Feb. 9-25 Olympics in Pyeongchang since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly said in a New Year’s speech that he was willing to send a delegation to the games.
Critics say Kim’s overture is an attempt to use improved ties with South Korea to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions on North Korea while buying time to perfect his nuclear weapons program. The moves nevertheless have provided a temporary thaw in the Koreas’ long-strained ties and fostered optimism that North Korea won’t launch any new provocations, at least during the Olympics.
The North’s participation in the Olympics “will serve as a chance to warm solidly frozen South-North ties,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said during a visit with South Korean Olympic athletes. “But if we march together (during the opening ceremony) or field a single team, I think that can be a further step in developing South-North relations.”
Moon spoke while officials from the two Koreas were meeting at a border village for the third time in about a week, with North Korea saying it will send a 230-member cheering squad to the Olympics as well as a delegation to the Pyeongchang Paralympics in March.
The officials also discussed fielding a joint women’s ice hockey team and having their athletes march under a “unification flag” depicting the Korean Peninsula, instead of their respective national flags, during the opening ceremony, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. It said North Korea proposed that its Olympic delegation travel to South Korea across the heavily fortified land border.Read More...
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