North Korea will send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South. South Korea made the confirmation of the North’s participation.
South Korea’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung says the North issued such a statement during rare talks between the rival neighbors at the border on Tuesday.
The North Korean delegation would include athletes, officials, cheerleaders, and journalists.
Chun also shared that South Korea even proposed that the two Koreas conduct a joint march during the Game’s opening and closing ceremonies on February 9-25.
But it wasn’t just all about the Winter Olympics and the games that the two Koreas talked about. South Korea also proposed resuming temporary reunions of families separated by war. They also offered talks intended to reduce animosities in frontline areas. North Korea responded by saying the two countries must try to promote peace and reconciliation through dialogue.
The first talk in two years was arranged only after North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un made an abrupt move recently calling for improved ties with South Korea after being responsible for the heightened tensions in the region with its expanding nuclear and missile programs. Critics point out that Kim is just using the Winter Olympics and talks with South Korea to help divide long-standing allies Seoul and Washington in a bid to weaken international support and sanctions on the isolated North.
The atmosphere in the talks is generally described as “amicable.” The overall prospect for the negotiations is still unclear, however, given the long history of ending key talks without any agreement and lack of follow-throughs.
North Korea is also expected to demand rewards in exchange for South Korea’s offer for family reunions and military talks, like Seoul stopping its supposed propaganda broadcasts, and scaling back or halting military drills with the U.S.