North Korean cheering group to arrive in South for Olympics
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A North Korean delegation, including 229 members of a state-trained cheering group, will arrive in South Korea on Wednesday for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, officials said.
North Korea told the South that the 280-member group, which plans to cross the land border Wednesday morning, will also include officials from North Korea’s Olympic committee, journalists and members of a taekwondo demonstration team, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
Tuesday’s announcement came hours before a North Korean ferry carrying a 140-member art troupe was expected to arrive in the South Korean port of Mukho after being escorted by South Korean naval vessels.
The art troupe, led by Hyon Song Wol, also the leader of the famous Moranbong girl band hand-picked by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will perform in Gangneung and Seoul on Feb. 8 and Feb. 11, respectively, before returning home.
The war-separated rivals are cooperating for a series of conciliatory measures during the Olympics in the South, which Seoul sees an opportunity to ease tensions with Pyongyang following an extended period of animosity over its nuclear ambitions. Skeptics say that the North is trying to use the Olympics to weaken U.S.-led sanctions and pressure and buy more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles program.
The Olympics will begin Friday with an opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, a relatively small ski resort town that will host the skiing, snowboard and sliding competitions. Gangneung, a coastal city about an hour’s drive away, will host the hockey, skating and curling events.