North Korea to send delegation to 2018 Winter Olympics

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games
An ice sculpture of the Olympic rings is seen during the Pyeongchang Winter Festival, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

North Korea has agreed to send a delegation of athletes and cheerleaders to the Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea next month. The decision comes as a result of the talks between the two parties this week, and it marks an important step towards peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula.

The meeting saw officials from the two countries meeting face to face on Tuesday in the border town of Panmunjom, which is known as the truce village, beside the heavily armed demilitarized zone dividing the nations.

The North Korean delegation that attended the meeting was headed by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North’s committee for the peaceful reunification of the fatherland, while the South Korean side was headed by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

According to a joint closing statement released after the meeting, North Korea will be sending a high-level delegation comprising athletes, a cheering squad, a Taekwondo demonstration team, an art troupe, and a press corps.

Aside from the Winter Olympics, the two nations also agreed to hold further talks that will center on the subject of easing military strains in the region, following a very tense year that resulted from North Korea’s missile and nuclear testing in the region.

“South and North Korea have decided to make joint efforts for the unity of the people and reconciliation by establishing an environment for peace and easing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” said the statement.

However, in a separate statement, North Korea said it would not discuss its nuclear weapons in future talks with South Korea because they are aimed only at the United States and not at its brethren in the south.

“All our weapons including atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, nor China and Russia,” read the authoritarian nation’s statement.