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Two Koreas Meet Monday to Discuss Pyongyang’s Sending of Art Troupe to Olympics

Two Koreas Meet Monday to Discuss Pyongyang’s Sending of Art Troupe to Olympics

Saturday, 13 January, 2018 - 12:30
A South Korean soldier looks at North Korean counterparts through the window of a conference room in Panmunjom, Korea. (Reuters)

Officials from South and North Korea will meet on Monday to discuss Pyongyang’s plan to send a performing art troupe to next month’s Winter Olympic games, hosted in Pyeongchang.

The South’s Unification Ministry announced that the North was apparently keen to discuss logistics of the performers' trip to the South before planning its athletes and supporters' attendance at the Games.

"The government informed the North that our delegation will come to Panmunjom on January 15," the ministry said in a statement.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said it asked Pyongyang to promptly respond on when further talks can be held to discuss details of sending North Korean athletes and other officials to Games.

The North confirmed it would attend next month's Olympics in the South at a rare inter-Korean meeting last week, following months of tensions over its nuclear weapons program.

Both sides will each dispatch four delegates including art officials to next week’s talks.

Hyon Song-Wol, leader of the popular Moranbong band, is one of four North Korean delegates to attend the talks in the truce village of Panmunjom on Monday.

The Moranbong band is an all-female music group performing pop, rock and fusion styles, whose members are reportedly selected by the leader Kim Jong-Un himself.

Seoul's delegation will be an official from its culture ministry, the head of the Korean Symphony Orchestra and its art director and an official from Unification Ministry, the ministry said.

The development comes a day after South Korea's vice sports minister Roh Tae-Kang said the South had proposed marching with the North at the Olympics' opening ceremony and also forming a joint women's ice hockey team during the high-level talks which took place on Tuesday.

A joint march at the opening ceremony would be a stunning statement for the Games dubbed the "Peace Olympics", which will open about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the heavily fortified Korean border on February 9.

North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, meaning Pyeongchang will be the first Olympics they have attended in the South.

Separately, the International Olympic Committee has proposed a meeting on January 20 at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, involving the rival Koreas to discuss North Korea's participation in Pyeongchang.

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