Athletes from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are in South Korea, getting ready to compete when the Pyeongchang Winter Games get underway in just one week. The International Olympic Committee said their presence can send a message of peace to the rest of the world.
CGTN’s Shane Hahm reports.
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The DPRK Olympians made the 1 hour and 15 minute flight aboard a commercial charter plane, arriving ready to compete in cross country and alpine skiing, short track speed skating and figure skating.
The South Korean Unification Ministry said the 32 member delegation is led by Vice Sports Minister Won Kil-u, and consists of three coaches, 10 athletes and 18 support staff.
The DPRK delegation arrived with a group of South Korean skiers, returning from a two-day training program at the DPRK’s Masikryong Ski Resort.
Included in the delegation is a figure skating pair, who are the only athletes to have qualified for the Olympics. The IOC handed the others wild card slots last month.
“We are very happy that North and South can become one and participate as a joint team,” Pak Chol Ho, coach of the DPRK women’s ice hockey team, said. “In this short time, if we put our strength and minds together and prepare well for the matches, we will have good results.”
Members of the ice hockey team from the DPRK are in the Republic of Korea. They will be training for their newly-formed unified Olympic team, and there are high hopes this goodwill gesture will extend beyond the Pyeongchang Games.
The DPRK agreed in early January to participate in the Pyeongchang Games. The country’s delegation will join their South Korean counterparts entering the Opening Ceremonies under a joint unity flag.
The last time South Korea hosted an Olympics in 1988, the DPRK boycotted the event.
In addition to the athletes, a DPRK art troupe and a Taekwondo demonstration team are scheduled to perform in South Korea to commemorate the Pyeongchang Games. But with reports of a possible DPRK military parade on the eve of the Opening Ceremonies, many here are still crossing their fingers, hoping the Olympics go off without a hitch.
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