2 Koreas discuss Northern art troupe’s visit during Olympics

PTI Seoul | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on January 15, 2018
Kwon Hyok Bong, director of the Arts and Performance Bureau in North Korea's Culture Ministry, shakes hands with Lee Woo-sung, head of the culture and arts policy office at the culture ministry, during their meeting at Tongilgak, the North's building in the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea. Photo: REUTERS

Talka on even as the North warns of Olympic withdrawal

Officials from the two Koreas met today to work out details about North Korea’s plan to send an art troupe to the South during next month’s Winter Olympics, as the rivals tried to follow up on the North’s recent agreement to cooperate in the Games in a conciliatory gesture following months of nuclear tensions.

In a development that still shows their bitter animosities, the North issued a veiled threat yesterday indicating it could cancel its plans to send an Olympic delegation to protest what it called South Korea’s “sordid acts of chilling” the prospect for inter-Korean reconciliation.The warning is relatively milder than the North’s typical fiery, bellicose rhetoric and it didn’t appear to put the recent signs of warming Korean ties in imminent danger. “They should know that train and bus carrying our delegation to the Olympics are still in Pyongyang,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said, adding, “The South Korean authorities had better ponder over what unfavorable results may be entailed by their impolite behavior.”

KCNA criticised the remarks by South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week that credited President Donald Trump for getting the North to sit down with the South. It also accused Seoul of letting Washington deploy strategic assets like an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula on the occasion of the Olympics.

During Monday’s talks at the border village of Panmunjom, the two Koreas discussed when and where the North’s art troupe would perform in South Korea and under what specific stage conditions, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Drawing keen attention is whether the North would send its famous “Moranbong Band,” an all-female ensemble hand- picked by the North’s leader Kim Jong Un. One of the North Korean delegates to the talks is Hyon Song Wol, the head of the Moranbong Band, the Unification Ministry said. Since its first stage debut in 2012, the band is hugely popular at home and has been dubbed by outsiders as “North Korea’s only girl group” for its Western-style performances featuring women in mini-skirts and high heels dancing and singing odes to Kim.

Published on January 15, 2018
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