A North Korean delegation set to visit the South on Friday will travel via a private jet, Seoul’s unification ministry said on Thursday.
The DPRK reportedly notified Seoul of its travel plans in a message on Thursday afternoon, saying that the delegation will depart from Pyongyang, flying using the West Sea direct air route, and arrive at Incheon International Airport at 1330 KST.
“The private jet will not be on standby at the Incheon International Airport,” the statement said, suggesting the plane will return to the North once the delegation disembarks.
The jet will bring four North Korean officials, as well as 18 supporting staff, to the South to attend the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
It will then, according to the MOU, depart from South Korea’s Incheon International Airport on the evening of February 11.
This will be the first North Korean plane to use the route since 2014, when a high-level delegation visited the South to attend the closing ceremony of the 17th Asian Games.
The delegation will be led by Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Presidium of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
He will be accompanied by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC), vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Choe Hwi, and first vice director of the Central Committee of the WPK Kim Yo Jong.
The decision to send Choe – who was blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last year – is particularly controversial: the former Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD) official is under an international travel ban.
Wednesday saw the South Korean mission at the United Nations submit a request for a broad exemption for the delegation.
In a letter to the UN’s 1718 committee, the mission said the visit represented a “timely opportunity to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and beyond by promoting an environment conducive to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution concerning the situation on the Peninsula.”
The note also stated that the delegation would engage “high-level inter-Korean dialogue” during the visit.
Chair of the committee Ambassador Karel Van Oosterom has submitted the request to member states, with a decision due at 1500 EST.
The two Koreas last month agreed to send a “high-level” delegation from the North Korean government to the Olympics, amid a series of inter-Korean talks not seen in three years.
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