SEOUL – A group of South Korean skiers traveled on Wednesday to North Korea to attend a joint training session with North Korean athletes, as part of the agreements reached between the two countries ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
The plane with the South Korean 45-member delegation on board took off from the small Yangyang International Airport, in eastern South Korea, and headed to the Kalma military airport in North Korea after the joint training was confirmed by both countries, a spokesperson for the South Korean Unification Ministry told EFE.
The South Korean athletes will participate in joint training sessions at Masikryong Ski Resort together with North Korean skiers on Wednesday and Thursday, and will then head back to South Korea.
The cancellation of a joint cultural event on Monday had raised doubts about whether or not the symbolic joint training would finally take place.
Pyongyang blamed South Korean media for producing biased reports on North Korea’s military activities, which led them to suspend the cultural event.
In addition, South Korea had to wait for the United States’ approval regarding the departure of the charted Asiana flight transporting their athletes to North Korea, as Pyongyang still faces sanctions imposed by Washington over its nuclear programs.
The joint training sessions were part of the agreement reached between the two Koreas earlier in January, which allowed North Korea to participate in the Winter Olympic Game, starting on Feb. 9 in the South Korean county of PyeongChang.
This sports event is expected to promote regional rapprochement on the Korean peninsula after a year of tension marked by North Korea’s continuous weapons tests and the aggressive rhetoric by the US against the Pyongyang regime.