SEOUL – North and South Korea began a working-level meeting on Tuesday to discuss the North’s participation in the Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in South Korea, set to kick off on March 9.
At Tuesday’s meeting – held inside the Tongilgak administrative building on the northern side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) –, the North Korean delegation was headed by Hwang Chung-song, a senior official at North Korea’s state agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs, while that of the South was headed by Lee Joo-tae, director-general in charge of inter-Korean exchanges at the Reunification Ministry at Seoul.
“We will do our best for the talks to maintain (the current) atmosphere (conducive to) an improvement of inter-Korean relations,” Lee said, according to Yonhap news agency.
Both countries had agreed that the North Korean delegation for PyeongChang Paralympics would arrive in South Korea by land on the 7th, crossing through one of the border posts in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, the South’s Unification Ministry said in a statement.
North Korea is expected to send a 150-member delegation, including athletes, an art troupe and cheerleaders to the Paralympics, according to agreements between the two countries during earlier meetings.
It would be North Korea’s first ever participation at the Paralympics.
Tuesday’s meeting follows the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games which ended on Sunday, to which North Korea had sent a delegation of athletes and performers.
The Games have led to the most significant diplomatic achievement in years between the two neighboring countries, which have technically been at war for 65 years.
Seoul hopes the recent thaw would extend to the United States and bring it, too, to the negotiating table for the first time in more than a decade.
Kim Yong-chol, who had headed the North Korean delegation which attended the Winter Games closing ceremony, had also said that his country was willing to hold talks with the United States.