About the Author
Seungmock Oh was an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
Correction at 2120 KST: The final decision not to gift the smartphones was made by the Organising Committee for the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Games (POCOG), not the Ministry of Unification (MOU). The article has been amended to reflect that fact.
North Korean athletes involved in the upcoming Winter Olympics will not receive a free Samsung Galaxy Note 8 for their participation, sources with knowledge of the issue told NK News on Monday.
Samsung Electronics, which is sponsoring the games, has agreed to gift around 4000 new smartphones to all athletes participating in PyeongChang, as well as to International Olympic Committee officials.
“Samsung will hand about 4000 Galaxy Note 8 smartphones to the International Olympic Committee (IOC),” a Samsung spokesperson told NK News. “Then, the IOC will distribute it to the athletes and the Olympic officials.”
The DPRK Olympic team reportedly consists of 46 members, 22 of which are athletes.
The two Koreas have also formed a joint national female hockey team.
The DPRK women’s ice hockey team, composed of one director, 12 athletes, and two assistants, has been dispatched to the South in advance and the athletes are currently conducting joint training with their ROK counterparts.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2397, unanimously adopted on December 22, prohibits imports of electronics, vehicles, machinery, and metals into North Korea.
South Korea has repeatedly insisted that North Korea’s participation in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics – which begins on February 9 – does not breach international sanctions against the country.
Monday saw the MOU announce that South Korea will use a chartered plane to fly its skiers to planned joint training at North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort and not pay the DPRK for the use of Kalma airport.
But questions remain over an inter-Korean cultural event to be held at the DPRK’s Mount Kumgang this week, with logistics requiring Seoul to bring refined petroleum into the North to meet required fuel needs – a potential sanctions breach.
The two Koreas are “in the final stage of discussing details over the events,” MOU spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun told media on Monday.
“We don’t have much time, given schedules. We will pump up efforts to hold such events smoothly through cooperating with other government agencies.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Korean Sport & Olympic Committee