North Korean orchestra to perform in South during Olympics amid easing tensions

North Korean orchestra to perform in South during Olympics amid easing tensions
# 15 January 2018 19:09 (UTC +04:00)

Officials from the two Koreas, technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, met on the North side of the border truce village of Panmunjom to discuss North Korea sending performers - for the first time in 18 years - to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The two sides agreed that the orchestra would stage performances in the capital, Seoul, and at Gangneung, near Pyeongchang, the South’s Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Lee Woo-sung, Seoul’s chief negotiator, said the North had asked that the art troupe cross the border by foot via Panmunjom, located in the demilitarized zone where a North Korean soldier staged a daring defection to the South in November.

The North will dispatch a preliminary inspection team “at the earliest possible time” to hammer out logistics such as the performance venue, stage conditions and the installation of equipment, according to a joint press release.

The decision to host the orchestra “contributes to improving relations and recovering the cultural homogeneity” between the two Koreas, the South’s ministry said.

The two Koreas separately agreed to hold working talks on Wednesday on the North’s athletes attending the Olympics, the ministry said. They will also hold talks hosted by the IOC on Saturday.

“The IOC will have no say on the art team. That is something that has to be discussed between the two sides,” a North Korean diplomat in Geneva told Reuters.

North Korea is pursuing its missile and nuclear programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council and other sanctions and has frequently threatened to destroy the United States and its two key Asian allies, South Korea and Japan.