South and North Korean skiers begin joint training sessions Wednesday

Posted February 01, 2018

The two Koreas agreed to hold the joint training of their skiers during a high-level meeting on January 9, as a means of strengthening cross-border relations ahead of the Winter Games.

Ministry officials said they expect a joint training session between the countries' non-Olympic skiers at a North Korean ski resort to go on as planned this week.

It was recently announced that 169 OAR athletes had been given invitations to compete at Pyeongchang 2018, however, that number has now reduced to 168 after speed skater Olga Graf turned the invitation down in protest.

South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung Gyon assured that the parade would not interfere with joint Olympic efforts, describing it as an "internal North Korean event".

The ministry cited North Korea as saying it has no other option but to cancel the cultural event because of South Korean media reports that it says defamed its "sincere" measures for the Olympics.

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"It's North Korea's responsibility to show its sincerity".

Wednesday's flight was the first direct South Korean flight to North Korea since 2015, when South Korean labor unionists flew to Pyongyang for a goodwill soccer match with North Korean workers, the ministry said. South Korea held discussions with the United States until the last minute to ensure the trip wouldn't violate US sanctions against the North.

Richard Colon, a Diplomatic Security official, said the service would have about 100 personnel in South Korea, working both from the U.S. Embassy and the Olympics venues.

Seoul and Washington are believed to have agreed the chartered Asiana Airlines plane transporting the Korean athletes won't be subject to USA sanctions, News 1 reported. "We believe it indicates South Korea's support to Russia's Olympic team", Timonin said.

After talks earlier this year aimed at defusing tensions, North and South Korea agreed to field a unified women's ice hockey team and to march their athletes under one flag at the opening ceremony. "When else would I be able to visit North Korea?" "But for us, how we compete will say everything".