North and South Korea have agreed to make a joint entrance under a unified Korean peninsula flag at the opening ceremony of the upcoming Winter Olympics. They will also send a combined women’s ice hockey team.
After intense negotiations, the two Koreas announced on Wednesday that they will make a joint entrance to next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Following a meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom, the latest in a string of recent talks between the two nations, Yonhap news agency reported that the countries will also send a united women’s ice hockey team to the Games. The plan is still subject to approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
It has also emerged that a North Korean delegation will visit the South next week to take a look at facilities for the Games, which begin on February 9. Furthermore, South Korea will send some of its athletes to Masikryong, a ski resort in the North.
Last week, Pyongyang agreed to send athletes, officials and various performers to the Winter Olympics south of the border. The Pyeongchang Games are to take place just 80 kilometers south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the nations.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has expressed his support for the united ice hockey team and the countries marching together while, before the talks, the North’s chief delegate Jon Jong-Su said he “hopes that ties can open” between the countries.
However, not everyone has greeted the news so positively. Japansese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the world should not be naive about North Korea’s “charm offensive” over the Olympics.
“It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea,” Kono said. “The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working.”
mp/kl (AFP, DPA, Reuters)