North Korean delegation arrives in South

Amid Olympic unity South Korea walks a tightrope

It is the first visit to the North by Seoul officials for almost two years, according to the South's Yonhap news agency.

Dubbed as North Korea's "Spice Girl", Hyon Song-wol appeared live on South Korean television boarding a train from Seoul to Gangneung, according to Ottowa Citizen.

There was just a glimmer of good news on the Korean peninsula this week with the report that North and South would form a unified Olympic team for the Winter Olympics in South Korea and their teams would parade together for the first time in 11 years. Its delegation at the February 9-25 games is to include officials, athletes, a cheering group, journalists, an art troupe and the taekwondo demonstration team.

"Pyongyang is apparently angry as unconfirmed rumours about Hyon's alleged ties with Kim are being spread again", Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies said.

In a diplomatic breakthrough after a year of escalating tension over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, the International Olympic Committee announced yesterday that North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games and compete in three sports and five disciplines.

The deal over the unified women's ice hockey team brought criticism that Seoul is depriving some of its own players of the chance to compete in the Olympics for the sake of politics.

The governments of North and South Korea were offered "sincere thanks" by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach announcing the agreement. For more, we now connect with our unification ministry correspondent, Kwon Jang-ho, who is at the inter-Korean transit office at the far eastern border.

The Samjiyon art troupe, which comprises orchestra members, singers and dancers, is part of North Korea's Olympic delegation that also includes athletes, officials, journalists and a taekwondo demonstration team. "This team will enter the stadium under the Korean reunification flag".

"North Korea's participation in the Olympics will be a catalyst for building peace and easing tensions on the Korean peninsula", said South Korea's presidential Blue House in a statement released today.

Twelve players would be added to the existing South Korean women's ice hockey squad of 23.

LKP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo, on his part, said the North Korean delegation's visit demonstrates that the PyeongChang Olympics are becoming a "Pyongyang" Olympics. "The Olympic Games are always about building bridges".

It took about two hours for the North Koreans to reach Gangneung, the first leg of their two-day, two-stop visit.

Bach said the IOC has since 2014 talked with Olympic officials from both countries separately to see if the Pyenongchang Games could be the catalyst for peace-making.

Far-right activists took more drastic measures, clashing with police as they rallied outside Seoul Station where the seven-member North Korean advance team was due to arrive.

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