NKorea plans to send its nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam to the Winter Olympic Games.North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam will go to South Korea this week to attend the Winter Olympics, the most senior official to ever visit the South.
South Korea’s government also plans to meet with the high-level North Korean delegation attending the Games in Pyeongchang, which start on February 9.
Seoul’s presidential office has welcomed the plan of the visit of a delegation, headed by Kim.
“We believe it reflects North Korea’s determination to improve the South Korea-North Korea relationship and make the Olympic Games successful and that the North has shown sincere and earnest efforts toward such an end,” Seoul’s presidential office spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said at a press briefing on Monday.
Another government spokesperson said South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in is likely meet Kim and he might also hold a bilateral meeting with him on the sidelines of the events at the Games.
After informing Seoul of the members of its delegation a day earlier, Pyongyang on Monday confirmed the plan of sending its “high-level” delegation headed by Kim in a statement published by the North Korean state news agency KCNA.
Three other delegates and 18 support officers will accompany Kim, according to Seoul.
Kim’s visit to South Korea for the Games will coincide with that of the United States Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to arrive on February 8.
A historic agreement was reached in January between the two Koreas – who have technically been at war for more than 65 years – facilitating the participation of the North in the Games and allowing for the two Koreas to march under the same flag at the Games’ opening ceremony.
Besides athletes, North Korea has also agreed to send hundreds of musicians and cheerleaders to the Winter Olympics, which will conclude on February 25.
Seoul believes North Korea’s participation in Pyeongchang 2018 can help to reduce tension and facilitate rapprochement after 2017 was marked by Pyongyang’s missile tests and its exchange of threats with US President Donald Trump.