DPRK Delegation Arrives in South Korea to Inspect Olympic Venues

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A Korean unity deal for the Pyeongchang Olympics will bring 22 North Korean athletes across the border to South Korea, where they will march as one under a unification flag at the opening ceremony and compete together in one sport.

Airapetyan participated in the 2018 European Short Track Speed Skating Championship where he won a silver medal in a relay race. They will play under the Olympic code of "COR" - the French acronym for Korea - and hear the song "Arirang" as a pre-game anthem.

Now North and South Korea will get that chance.

The idea of a joint women's ice hockey team has raised some eyebrows in the South, of course, because there are certain universals in the world of sports.

"We sent a message by fax to the North.at around 11:20 am, demanding an explanation", Seoul's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon told reporters.

Hyon Song-Wol, reportedly an ex-girlfriend of leader Kim Jong-Un, would have been the first North Korean official to visit the South in four years if Saturday's trip had gone ahead.

In addition, the North has offered to send another eight-member advance team to South Korea this coming Thursday to look at Olympics facilities, including the stadium and accomodations.

The "Olympic Korean Peninsula Declaration" ruled that 12 players and one official from North Korea will be added to the existing South Korea women's ice hockey squad, which consists of 23 players. However, to maintain fairness for opponents, only 22 can suit up for each game.

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The two Koreas will exchange visits of working-level officials later this week to continue consultations on issues related to the North's participation in the Olympics and the Paralympics that follow.

All others would have not qualified otherwise and have benefited from additional quota places.

At the UN, North Korea also recently criticized USA intervention in inter-Korea relations.

The two countries, between whom relations are finally thawing, earlier this month made a historic agreement to compete at the Olympics under a unified Korean flag.

Seoul has long sought to promote the Games as a "Peace Olympics" that would ease tension on the flashpoint peninsula, where the North has carried out multiple missile launches in recent months, along with its most powerful nuclear test to date. If South Korea were to provide such equipment to North Korean players, Seoul could come under criticism for disarraying concerted action for the sanctions.

"I ask North Korea to also make efforts".

Many observers, including the South Korean military, are skeptical of North Korea's intentions, suspecting that North Korea only wants to talk in order to drive a wedge between the USA and South Korea, extract concessions, and advance its national interests.

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