Seoul will next week dispatch an advance inspection team to North Korea for a joint cultural event and joint training of North and South Korean skiers, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced on Sunday.
The South Korean government on Friday reportedly proposed that a 12-member delegation – to be led by the unification ministry’s Lee Joo-tae – visit for two nights and three days on January 23.
“The North agreed with the dispatch of the preliminary inspection team proposed by our side over the joint South-North cultural event in the region of Mt. Kumgang and the joint training of South and North Korean skiers at Masikryong Ski Resort in the notice,” the MOU said.
North Korea registered the South Korean suggestion by sending a notice to Seoul through the Panmunjom communications channel on Sunday morning.
“[The North] also said they expect a full consultation over the issues that were discussed at the inter-Korean working-level talks during the period of the preliminary inspection team’s visit,” the unification ministry added.
The South Korean government will notify the North on further details of the visit, including the members of the delegation, in the coming days.
Seoul on Friday suggested the 12 South Korean officials visit the North via the overland route on the East Sea (Donghae) line.
The route has been largely unused since July 2008, when the operation of Mt. Kumgang resort was suspended after a South Korean tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier.
The ROK preliminary inspection team will discuss issues related to a joint culture event at Mount Kumgang and a joint training session of skiers from the two Koreas at Masikryong Ski Resort.
The proposal is a follow-up measure to Wednesday’s vice–ministerial meeting, at which the two Koreas agreed to hold the two events ahead of next month’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, the North on Sunday also proposed the dispatch of a preliminary inspection team for the participation of the delegation including athletes, cheering squad and press corps next week as agreed on Wednesday, the MOU said.
It was suggested that the 8-member delegation, led by deputy director at Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports Yun Yong Bok, visit the South between January 25 and 27.
The DPRK made the proposal after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Saturday said the North could send 22 athletes, 24 officials, and 21 media representatives to next month’s Winter Olympics.
The preliminary inspection team will inspect the facilities, including accommodations and venues for the opening and closing ceremony, stadium, and the press center, the unification ministry added.
The second North Korean inspection team also plans to visit the South via the land route of the Gyeongui Line.
The South Korean government will respond to the North’s suggestion following a review of the details.
The two Koreas have been exchanging communication under the name of South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon and chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) Ri Son Gwon.
The announcements accompanied a North Korean delegation’s visit to the South on Sunday.
The seven-member delegation led by Hyon Song Wol – head of the DPRK’s Samjiyon Orchestra –crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) at 0857 KST, the unification ministry confirmed to media.
The North Korean officials passed the customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) at 0902 KST and entered the South at 0917 KST.
As the North Korean delegation made its visit via the land route of the Gyeongui Line, the overland route was used first in around two years after it was blocked in the wake of the suspension of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) in February 2016.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Uriminzokkiri
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