United Korea Hockey Team Divides South

"I think it is really great to see North Korea and South Korea marching together", said Hui Lambertis.

South Korean sports ministry spokesman Hwang Seong Un said the two Koreas have been discussing the make-up of a unified women's hockey team since a year ago when the North's representative, Chang Ung, visited along with his country's taekwondo demonstration team. "We completely understand the criticism that the creation of a unified Korean women's hockey team is unfair and unjust".

The spotlight is on Hyon Song-wol who will be leading the 7-member inspection team in its two-day trip to South Korea.

Trump's "unknown quantity" added a new factor to the North Korea equation, prompting concerns that frequent exchanges of harsh and sometimes even emotional rhetoric between the USA president and North Korea could easily spiral out of control and lead to an armed conflict.

In a reminder of the delicacy of the situation, satellite imagery appeared to show North Korea preparing for a large military parade, possibly to mark the 70th anniversary of its military on February 8th, the eve of the games.

"It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea", Mr. Kono said.

The Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation will be wearing gray and red in Pyeongchang.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the world should not be naive about North Korea's "charm offensive" over the Olympics.

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The talks so far have focused on the upcoming Games, but officials in Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington have expressed hope that they might lead to decreased tensions on the peninsula - and perhaps someday make conditions for discussing a broader deal on the North's weapons possible. Reclusive North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The North also issued a threat to back out of the Games after the South's president, Moon Jae-in, credited President Trump with creating an environment through global pressure that made the talks possible.

Denuclearization, the sticking point that has kept the US and South Korea from seriously negotiating with Pyongyang, was brought up in the original talks, but North Korea expressed disdain at the mention.

One pre-Olympic event will take place in North Korea.

Ahead of the Olympics, the Koreas will hold a joint cultural event at the North's scenic Diamond Mountain and have non-Olympic skiers train together at the North's Masik ski resort, according to the statement. The two sides agreed North Korean journalists will be credentialed for the Olympic Games.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the BBC this week her government was aware that Pyongyang might be playing for time to reduce global pressure to end its nuclear weapons programme.

While the overall number of North Korean athletes has yet to be decided, the existing South Korean ice hockey squad of 22 players will have to be expanded, possibly to 35, to accommodate them - an arrangement criticised by their Canadian coach, Sarah Murray. It said a seven-member team had been scheduled to visit on Saturday to check venues for the performances.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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