North Korea to send orchestra to Winter Olympics

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a news conference during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver British Columbia

The two governments agreed North Korea will send a delegation comprising athletes and high-ranking officials to the Winter Games at minister-level talks held in Panmunjom on January 9.

Just because North Korea has athletes competing in South Korea, it does not mean tensions between North Korea and the United States have thawed nor does it mean than strains between the two Koreas have abated and it doesn't mean that Japan is all of a sudden going to trust the North Korean regime.

The two Koreas have agreed to hold talks around various fields, including this issue, which we will discuss further as part of discussions on South-North relations.

North Korea's recent conciliatory moves in connection with the Olympics are widely viewed as an attempt to ease tensions after last year's nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

SEOUL-During rare talks credited largely to President Donald Trump's foreign policy, North Korea agreed to send a symphonic orchestra to the South to perform at the Winter Olympics next month. South Korean officials are lobbying the International Ice Hockey Federation, according to reports from Yonhap, to allow for an increase of the roster size of the women's ice hockey team to allow for North Korean participation. South Korean media speculate up to about 10 North Korean athletes could come to Pyeongchang if the International Olympic Committee gives additional quota to the two figure skaters and six to eight other female hockey players.

North Korea's use of recruitment materials in 2017 supports previous speculation that the country must have been preparing its cheer squad - and, by default, its Olympic delegation - for months.

The two sides will hold more talks Wednesday on the North's athletes attending the Olympics.

"In that sense, we hope that the talks could go smoothly so as to help our art troupe perform well in the South", he said.

The move has largely been interpreted as a show of force against North Korea which claimed a year ago that its missiles could hit the US island, some 2,131 miles away from Pyongyang.

"They should know that the train and bus carrying our delegation.are still in Pyongyang", it read. But if North Korea sends a similar number of cheerleaders as it has in the past, its total delegation - including the band, high-level officials, observers, the Taekwondo demonstration team and reporters - could be the largest North Korean delegation to ever visit the South.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the North was "expected to respond to the proposal soon". "The South shall ensure the safety and convenience of the North Arts Troupe to the maximum extent possible".

Diplomats say China's absence will limit what can be achieved, while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shown no sign of being willing to bow to pressure to give up weapons he sees as vital to his survival. The North last sent such a group in 2002, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.



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