SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday that North Korea’s participation in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games here will help improve inter-Korean ties.
“We have great expectations for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, and the stars of the PyeongChang Olympics are you athletes,” the president said during his first visit to the National Training Center in Jincheon, located 90 kilometers south of Seoul.
The president said he hoped the Olympics will help the nation achieve two main objectives: national unity and peace.
“I hope it will be an Olympic event of peace. Olympics are naturally events of peace. In addition to that, I believe we could not ask for more than the PyeongChang Olympic Games being a chance to begin establishing peace on our Korean Peninsula,” the president said, according to pool reports.
“Fortunately, North Korea decided to take part in the PyeongChang Olympic Games. I am confident North Korea’s participation will help promote the PyeongChang Olympics,” he added.
Moon’s remarks came as officials from the two Koreas met on the South Korean side of the joint security area Panmunjeom to discuss details of North Korea’s participation in the quadrennial event, which willbe held from Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, a South Korean city located some 180 kilometers east of the capital.
The North was said to have proposed sending a 230-member cheering squad, in addition to its athletic delegation, to the PyeongChang Olympics.The reclusive state has also offered to take part in the Paralympic Games, slated to be held from March 9-18, according to earlier reports.
“Secondly, I believe it will be a great opportunity to thaw the South-North Korea relationship that is frozen solid,” Moon said.
Officials here have said the two Koreas are discussing the possibility of forming a unified women’s hockey team, as well as having all their athletes march together at the opening ceremony.
The president asked for the athletes’ understanding, apparently noting some of the players on the women’s hockey team may lose their chance to compete in the Olympics.
“How North Korea will take part has not yet been decided. We still have no way of knowing whether they will march together and whether they will be able to form a single team in certain events. But should they march together or be able to form an unified team, I believe it willprovide a much better chance to develop the South-North Korea relationship than North Korea’s simple participation would,” Moon was quoted as saying.
“I believe our people and people around the world will be moved while watching such a sight. It will also mark a good start to improving South-North Korea ties for the future,” he added.