Published: Wed, January 17, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

US, Japan warn North Korea playing for time as talks press on

US, Japan warn North Korea playing for time as talks press on

North Korea has asked South Korea to allow its delegation to cross the border via a land route in the western region for its participation in the PyeongChang Olympics, Seoul's Ministry of Unification said Wednesday, as the two Koreas sat down to work out key agenda items for the North's participation in the upcoming Winter Games.

Kwon Hyok-bong, North Korean director of the culture ministry's art performance bureau (right), Moranbong band leader Hyon Song-wol (center), and South Korean chief delegate Lee Woo Sung enter the meeting room of the Tongilgak (Unification Pavilion) on the North Korean side of Panmunjeom on January 15 to discuss North Korean performance artist groups participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Sidestepping a months-long stand-off about the North's missile programme, the two sides agreed in the border village of Panmunjom - where the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953 - that Pyongyang would send a 140-strong orchestra to the Games.

Mr Do said South Korea wants the Olympic hockey team roster to be expanded to embrace North Korean players, rather than a unified squad with an equal representation from both Koreas which would require some South Korean athletes to be eliminated. Further, they have now taken issue with South Korean President Moon Jae-In giving President Donald Trump any credit for the small amount of progress the two states have made in diffusing tensions.

The concerts, if they go ahead, would mark the first time that a North Korean artistic troupe has performed in the capitalist South since 2002, during a previous rare period of rapprochement.

The two countries also agreed to hold joint training for ski athletes at a ski resort in North Korea as well as hold a joint cultural event in the isolated nation.

Murray's comments come amid growing opposition to North and South Korea competing together in women's ice hockey at Pyeongchang 2018, however.

However, Trachta, a University of Iowa student from Iowa studying overseas in Seoul, said the North Korean nuclear threat has had zero effect on her study-abroad experience.

"The present South Korean chief executive's attitude casts doubt as to his intent to improve the North-South ties and build confidence". A South Korean Unification Ministry official told reporters that the Samjiyon Band "appears to have transformed" into an orchestra, but added that this has not been verified yet.

But fears of war have eased after the first round of intra-Korean talks in more than two years last week, which Trump has welcomed.

Seoul and Pyongyang will meet again Wednesday for a vice-ministerial working-level meeting to talk about a wider range of topics related to the Olympics.

10- North Korea, meanwhile, has reiterated that the return of a dozen citizens who entered South Korea in a precondition for resuming reunions of separated families.

Kim's state-run Korean Central News Agency blasted: "At this time, ill-boding remarks chilling the atmosphere for reconciliation are heard from South Korea, upsetting the people". They say they will retire after the Games in Pyeongchang. While it's not a major winter sports competitor, North Korean athletes have set several weightlifting world records and its women hold a high profile on the world football scene.

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