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North Korea Agrees to Send Olympic Athletes to Rival South to Break the Ice

Peace talks between North and South Korea have reached a groundbreaking moment after Kim Jong Un announced that he would send athletes from North Korea to participate in the winter Olympics taking place in its rival South.

The decision came after months of tension between the two nations which had been rising rapidly in the midst of North’s nuclear program and missile tests.

Talks Held in Panmunjom

Ri Son Gwon, head of the North Korean delegation with his South Korean counterpart, Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea, January 9, 2018.

During the talks held in the truce village of Panmunjom which is located in the demilitarized zone dividing the two countries, South Korea requested the negotiators from the North to send a team of representatives to the winter Olympics being held in Pyeongchang next month.

Surprisingly, the negotiators agreed to the request and promised to send an entire delegation consisting of their best players, a cheering squad and a performance group to its rival South. This announcement was considered a breakthrough since the 2018 Olympics will be the first winter sports event that North Korea will participate in in eight years.

A Historic Milestone in North Korea’s Sports Exchange

The country’s attendance will also mark a historic milestone in the sports exchange between the two Koreas. North Korea hasn’t shied away from showing hostility to its neighboring South during the 1988 Olympics which were held in Seoul. Not only did the country shun the games that year but also tried to sabotage South Korea’s reputation by sending agents to plant a bomb in a passenger plane belonging to Korean Air, a few months before the Olympics were supposed to be held, resulting in 115 deaths of passengers on board.

In the light of the country’s previous actions, North Korea’s recent decision to participate in the upcoming games, has been met with suspicion from the international community. The full details of the negotiations are yet to be revealed so it is unclear whether North Korea put forth any conditions for its attendance in the Olympics.

Could North Korea’s participation in Olympics be a part of a new propaganda?

Athletes of North and South Korea showing their friendly side during Rio Olympics

The two champions of the talks, Ri Son-kwon from North Korea and cabinet minister Cho Myoung-gyon from South Korea, decided to publicly announce this new development in order to show North’s sincerity when it comes to improving relations between the two countries to the whole world.

However, South’s cabinet minister has revealed only parts of the negotiation, wary of North Korea’s capability to create propagandas. Snippets of the talks were aired on national television in Seoul where tactics of North Korean negotiators were scrutinized by South Korean analysts. The audio clips of the meeting were also transmitted to North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.

United States, Hopeful for Negotiations

United States is also hopeful that the North’s decision to have peace talks with its south counterpart could mean that there were hopes for negotiation with Kim Jong-Un regarding his nuclear program.

However, this seems highly unlikely since the Supreme Leader of North Korea revealed in his New Year’s speech that he had recently acquired a new set of dangerous ballistic missiles that could destroy United States with a press of a button. These words are less than encouraging for the White House to keep any hopes of future negotiations.

Some analysts are claiming that North Korea’s decision to hold talks with the South is a direct result of the sanctions from Washington and the rest of the Western world which are finally working. It is speculated that the fear of isolation is finally making Kim Jong Un change his mind about negotiating with his enemies.

IOC Eager to See North Korean Athletes in Upcoming Olympics

Despite the imminent threat from the North’s missile program to South Korea and the rest of the world, the focus of the talks was on the winter Olympics.

Even though North Korea missed the deadline for sending names of their Olympic athletes, the International Olympic Committee says that they are eager to see the country’s participation in the winter games and will remain flexible in accepting wildcard entries from North Korean athletes.

U.S. President Donald Trump has praised North Korea’s decision for peace talks saying that the inter-Korean meeting is a very good sign and the United States might decide to intervene at a more appropriate time. Russia and China have also voiced their sentiments on the recent development, saying that they are happy to see the two countries working towards strengthening relations with each other.

Do you think these inter-Korean talks could go beyond Olympics?

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