Both Koreas Scheduled To Hold Talks Next Week Regarding North Korea's Participation In Paralympics

Yoona Choi, Feb. 23, 2018, 10:02 a.m.

South Korea and North Korea agreed Friday to hold working-level talks next week to discuss the North's participation in the 2018 Winter Paralympics, which will be held in the South next month, Seoul officials said. The two sides will meet Tuesday at the northern side of the inter-Korean border to discuss details of the North's participation in the March 9-18 games, according to South Korea's unification ministry.

At last month's inter-Korean talks, the North agreed to send a 150-member delegation including athletes, an art troupe and cheerleaders to the Paralympics.

Seoul will send a three-member delegation led by Lee Joo-tae, a director-general in charge of inter-Korean exchanges at the ministry, to the upcoming talks, it added.

South Korea and North Korea are expected to discuss details such as which events the North's athletes will compete in. Details about the North's participation will be decided by the International Paralympic Committee.

They will also exchange views about a travel route for the North's delegation and Seoul's provision of accommodations and logistics.

The two Koreas have engaged in a flurry of sports diplomacy since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed a willingness to send a delegation to the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in his New Year's message.

The North has dispatched nearly 500 people, including athletes, musicians and cheerleaders to the Olympics.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told lawmakers Thursday that former North Korean table tennis player Ri Pun-hui, a ranking official at the North's governing body for the Paralympics, could come to the South.

South Korean table tennis player Hyun Jung-hwa played doubles matches with Ri against China when the two Koreas fielded joint teams at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships.

Under the January inter-Korean agreement, the North did not say it would send a high-level delegation to the Paralympics.

The North sent a high-level delegation including Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, to the South from Feb. 9-11 to attend the Olympics' opening ceremony. It will dispatch another high-profile delegation led by Kim Yong-chol, a top party official, to the Games' closing ceremony Sunday for a three-day visit.

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