N.Korean inspection team arrives in S.Korea

Image for representational purpose only

North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on Sunday on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years.

Hyon Song Wol appeared live on South Korean TV as she boarded a train at Seoul that was destined for Gangneung, which will host the Winter Olympics.

"President Moon has previously stressed that the Pyeongchang Olympics should be an important turning point in solving North Korea's missile issues", the Blue House statement said.

Moranbong perform in Pyongyang in 2015.

The visit to the South marks the first by North Koreans since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May previous year and sought to re-engage with the North.

The leader of the Moranbong Band, whose members wear miniskirts or military garb and sing praises to Kim, attended talks at the border last week that resulted in a deal on the troupe's two performances.

They arrived at the main railway station in Seoul, the South Korean capital, where they faced throngs of photojournalists. Photos showed a smiling Hyon shaking heads with a South Korean official upon arrival at the border.

North Korea plans to send 22 athletes to the games next month, as well as performers.

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The united women's hockey team is to be the first time the two Koreas will have joined together in Olympic events.

After consultations with Seoul throughout the afternoon, both sides agreed that the North Koreans would cross over the border through the west coast on Saturday morning.

Thomas Bach, chief of the International Olympic Committee, said: 'Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago'.

In October, Hyon was elected to the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee as an alternate member, according to reports.

North Korea will send 22 athleteswho will compete in three sports, Bach said, following a meeting between delegations from the two Koreas and Olympic officials in Lausanne, Switzerland.Athletes from the North and South will also march together under one flag at the opening ceremony for the Games in Pyeongchang, which begin February 9, Bach said. It wasn't clear why the visit was rescheduled. The 140-member Samjiyon art troupe will give two performances - one in Seoul and the other in Gangneung, where part of the Games will take place - with Hyon as the leader.

The delegation led by Ms Hyon was slated to inspect venues in Gangneung yesterday and those in Seoul today before returning to the North the same day.

The delegation includes athletes, officials and cheerleaders.

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