North Korea delegates arrive in Seoul for pre-Olympics inspection

North Korea delegates arrive in Seoul for pre-Olympics inspection

SEOUL:North Korean logistics officials arrived in South Korea on Sunday after a previous cancellation briefly cast doubts on the North's participation in next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The symbolic gestures, agreed by North and South Korean negotiators earlier this week, during the first diplomatic talks in over two years, were meant to add to hopes of an eventual easing of worldwide tensions over Kim Jong-un's rapidly advancing nuclear and weapons programmes. South Korean officials have wanted to ensure that Ms. Hyon's artists keep political propaganda out of their performances in the South.

The 22 North Korean athletes will march together with South Korean players under a single "unification flag" depicting their peninsula during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.

The agreement became possible after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said three weeks ago that a team could cross the border to compete. Outside critics dismissed Kim's overture as a tactic to use improved ties with Seoul to weaken US -led global sanctions over North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs.

It was suggested that the 8-member delegation, led by deputy director at Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports Yun Yong Bok, visit the South between January 25 and 27.

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Hyon's advance team is to inspect a venue for her art troupe's performance in Gangnenug later Sunday.

North Korea has taken part in seven of the last 12 Winter Olympics, most recently in Vancouver 2010. The team is expected to stay overnight at Gangneung before returning to Seoul to check another venue in the capital on Monday, according to Yonhap news agency.

Pyongyang said on Sunday it also plans to send another team of sports officials to inspect Olympic venues and accommodations from January 25-27, South Korea's unification ministry said.

The highway, built to connect Seoul to an industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong, was closed in early 2016, when the South shut down the park in response to the North's nuclear weapons program and other provocations.

In the face of criticism that forming a joint team is disadvantageous to South Korean athletes, who will have fewer chances to play, the government has emphasized that the move will pave the way for a possible reconciliation of the two Koreas.

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