The two Koreas re-agreed to a visit of a North Korean preliminary inspection team on Sunday to South Korea to discuss a DPRK art performance during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) said in a late Saturday statement.
“Our side agreed that the visit of a preliminary inspection team to South Korea for the dispatching of the North Korean performing squad (will take place) tomorrow (January 21),” the MOU said in a written statement.
On Saturday North Korea revised its original proposal, suggesting its preliminary inspection team for the upcoming art squad performance would visit South Korea on Sunday.
The revised proposal came less than a day after Pyongyang’s sudden cancelation of a visit scheduled for Saturday by a seven-member delegation at around 22:00 KST on Friday.
“(They) notified us that their preliminary inspection team for dispatching the North Korean performing squad will visit via the land route of the Gyeongui Line on January 21 …,” the unification ministry said in a written statement.
The Gyeongui line is located in western South Korea and leads to the now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).
The route – previously used by former businessmen and workers at the KIC – will now be used for the first time in almost two years since the closure of the complex in February 2016.
The MOU said the South had a phone call with the North to coordinate the operation of the Panmunjom communications channel at 19:58 KST today. The two Koreas have now reportedly agreed to “normally” operate the border hotline as of Sunday.
Pyongyang said Seoul could implement the schedule “that has already been agreed upon,” the unification ministry said of the latest exchange.
The two Koreas on Friday agreed that an advance team led by Hyon Song Wol – head of the DPRK’s Samjiyon Orchestra – would make a two-day trip to the South.
Saturday’s notice was issued under the name of Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) and chief delegate to high-level inter-Korean talks on January. The statement was sent to South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon.
The North retracted its decision to dispatch a preliminary inspection delegation without providing any reason late on Friday, despite the fact the decision came less than six hours after the South agreed to the Northern delegation’s overnight visit at around 16:45 KST.
Speaking at a news conference, Minister Cho on Sunday told local media that the unification ministry called for the North to explain the “reason for suspending the dispatch of the preliminary inspection tea of the art troupe.”
Cho said Seoul sent a fax to the North through the Panmunjom communications channel at 11:20 KST on Saturday, according to a statement carried by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Although Seoul urged Pyongyang to explain its rationale, Pyongyang reportedly didn’t provide any reason for the sudden cancellation on Friday.
The visit of the inspection team comes as a follow-up measure of last Monday’s working-level talks over the dispatch of the North Korean art troupe.
At that meeting Pyongyang agreed to send the Samjiyon Orchestra – including some 140 members – to the South for the upcoming Winter Olympics. The art troupe will hold performances in Seoul and Gangneung.
Seoul on Friday proposed a South Korean preliminary inspection team for a joint culture event at Mt.Geumgang and a joint training session of South-North skiers in Masikryong ski resort on January 23.
The 12-member South Korean delegation was suggested to visit the DPRK via an eastern land route for two nights and three days. Pyongyang is yet to respond to the South’s proposal.
Featured Image: DPRK Today
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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