North Korea and South Korea will march together under the “United Korea” single flag at next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
In rare talks in the conciliatory village of Panmunjom, the two Koreas also agreed to organize a joint women’s ice hockey team.
These are the first high-level talks between North Korea and South Korea in more than two years.
This marks a thaw in relations that began in the new year when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to send a team to the Games.
The games will take place between February 9 and 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
If the plans materialize, a hundred-strong North Korean delegation – including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes – could cross the land border into South Korea to attend the Winter Olympics.
This will mean opening the cross-border road for the first time in almost two years.
The two Koreas have also agreed to organize a joint team for the women’s ice hockey sport. This would be the first time athletes from both Koreas have competed together in a single Olympic team.
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North Korea also agreed to send a smaller 150-member delegation to the Paralympic Games in March.
The agreement will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on January 20th, as North Korea has missed registration deadlines or failed to qualify.
South Korea will also have to find ways to receive the North Korean delegation without violating UN Security Council sanctions, which ban Pyongyang’s remittances and blacklist some senior North Korean officials.
The South Korean hockey coach and conservative newspapers have expressed concern about the prospect of a united hockey team, saying it could hurt South Korea’s chances of winning a medal.
Tens of thousands of people are said to have signed online petitions calling on South Korean President Moon Jae-in to cancel the plan.
However, the president told South Korean Olympic athletes on January 17 that North Korea’s participation in the Games would help improve inter-Korean relations.
President Moon Jae-in said the Olympic agreement could pave the way for a nuclear issue and lead to a dialogue between North Korea and the United States, Yonhap news agency in Seoul reported.