Koreas to march under single ‘united’ flag in Olympic Games

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Koreas to march under single 'united' flag in Olympic Games
Koreas to march under single 'united' flag in Olympic Games

North and South Korea have agreed to march together under a single “unified Korea” flag at next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

They also agreed to field a joint women’s ice hockey team after rare talks at the truce village of Panmunjom.

These are the first high-level talks between the two Koreas in more than two years.

The Games will take place between 9-27 February in Pyeongchang in South Korea.

If the plans are realised, a hundreds-strong North Korean delegation – including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes – could cross into the South via the land border to attend.

Both South Korea’s hockey coach and conservative newspapers had expressed concern about the prospect of a united hockey team, saying it could damage South Korea’s chances of winning a medal.

Tens of thousands of people are said to have signed online petitions urging President Moon Jae-in to scrap the plan.

And it will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, because North Korea has missed registration deadlines or failed to qualify.

Japan has also viewed the latest detente with suspicion, with Foreign Minister Taro Kono saying the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang’s recent “charm offensive”.

The North has made rapid recent advances in its nuclear and conventional weapons programmes.

North and South Korea have agreed to march under a single flag during the opening ceremony at next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in the south.

The two countries will also field a combined women’s ice hockey team for the Games, a joint statement released by Seoul’s unification ministry said.

Both moves followed rare talks in the truce village of Panmunjom.

However, Seoul’s proposal for a joint ice hockey team triggered an angry response from South Korean athletes, knowing they may have to play alongside total strangers.

Japan has also expressed concern over the deal with Foreign Minister Taro Kono saying the world should not be naive about Pyongyang’s “charm offensive” over the Olympics.

North Korea is expected to send a 550-member delegation, including 230 cheerleaders, 140 artists and 30 Taekwondo players to the Games.

Seoul and Pyongyang have been in talks since last week -the first time in more than two years – about the Olympics. The discussions have offered a brief respite from rising tensions over the North’s missile and nuclear programmes.

The two Koreas are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.

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