The South Korean government on Tuesday passed a proposal allowing USD$2.64 million in funding for North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced.
The money will pay for amenities for the DPRK delegation during its visit, as well as cultural and exchange projects, and will come from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF).
The IKCF approved the funding of around KRW2.86 billion (USD$2,640,324) at a Tuesday meeting convened by Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon.
The fund will cover the costs for a 229-member North Korean cheering squad, a 137-member art troupe, a 35-member Taekwondo demonstration team, and 21 reporters.
Around KRW1.2 billion will be used for the price of board and lodging, with KRW1 billion on admission fees and roughly KRW100 million on transport, unification ministry spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun said during a news briefing.
Funds will be paid to the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG), the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, and World Taekwondo (WT), among others.
The money represents the largest amount spent on the North’s participation in an international sports event hosted by the South, despite the DPRK sending larger delegations in the past.
Seoul spent KRW1.355 billion (around USD$1.25 million) on a delegation to the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and KRW899 million (USD$830,024) on a delegation to the 2003 Summer Universiade in Daegu.
2014 saw the Park administration paid KRW413 million (USD$381,524) for a 273-member national squad to take part in the Asian Games at Incheon.
Speaking at Tuesday’s news briefing, Baik said the amount of funding had risen due to the increased cost of tickets for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The total number of cheerleaders, performers, and others dispatched to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, he added, was larger than previous North Korean national squads.
Though the Mangyongbong-92 ferry was also used as accommodation by the North Koreans in 2002, this year saw the Samjiyon Orchestra divide their stay between the ship and the five-star Grand Walkerhill hotel in Seoul.
Meanwhile, a North Korean cheering squad, Taekwondo demonstrators, and reporters are staying at the Inje Speedium in Gangwon.
Some of the money, the MOU said, will likely be recouped during an expense settlement process once the games are complete.
Speaking at the news conference, Baik said Seoul had also approved a bill for KRW27 million to be spent on the visit of two North Korean preliminary inspection teams in January.
Seoul plans to cover the cost of last week’s visit by a high-level North Korean delegation to the South, but is yet to say how much will be spent.
The South Korean government has also passed a bill providing KRW148 million for the operation of a Joint Government Support Corps, the MOU confirmed to NK News.
The organ was launched in January to “provide well-organized, safe support for the North’s athletes taking part in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean presidential office
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