SEOUL – North Korea’s Paralympic delegation arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics amid regional rapprochement as Pyongyang expressed its willingness to hold denuclearization talks.
The 24-member North Korean Paralympic team, including two skiers who received an invitation from the International Paralympic Committee, arrived in South Korea via a western land border crossing.
Although there are only two North Korean Paralympic skiers – Kim Jong-hyon Kim and Ma Yu-chol – competing in the event, their participation still marks the debut of the North Korean Paralympic team in the Winter Olympics Games.
The athletic delegation, which plans to return to North Korea on March 15, is led by Kim Mun-chol, chairman of the central committee of the Korean Federation for the Protection of the Disabled, and vice chairman Jong Hyon.
Their arrival came a day after Pyongyang voiced its willingness to discuss its nuclear disarmament with the US for the first time in more than a decade.
Pyongyang made the remarks as a result of the historic trip made by South Korea’s special delegation to Pyongyang, during which South Korean senior officials met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The South Korean special delegation concluded their trip to the North with a significant development, as the two countries agreed to organize an inter-Korean leader summit in April, marking the third of its kind in history, and to establish a direct hotline between South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, which would allow for close consultation on reducing regional tensions.
The Winter Paralympic Games will take place in the South Korean county of PyeongChang from March 9-18.