North Korean girl band leader heads delegation to South


A North Korean delegation led by the powerful female head of a national orchestra toured concert halls in Seoul on Monday, the second day of their two-day visit to inspect candidate venues for planned art performances during next month's PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In a flurry of sporting diplomacy, the two Koreas agreed this month that the North would attend the Games, the two would march together under a unification flag at the opening ceremony, and they would form a joint female ice hockey team - a deal approved by the International Olympic Committee on Saturday.

It said a seven-member team had been scheduled to visit on Saturday to check venues for the performances. In this light, many South Koreans viewed positively North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent expressed desire for North Korea to participate in the Olympics.

Hyon, a star singer and also the leader of the 140-member Samjiyon Orchestra chosen to visit the South, left the station in Gangneung without talking to throngs of journalists.

"The PyeongChang Winter Olympics is turning into "Kim Jong-un's Pyongyang Olympics" that effectively recognizes its nuclear armaments and propagates the North Korean regime", the protesters complained, according to local news agency Yonhap.

But it was on Hyon Song-wol that South Korea's cameras were focused.

But it has become harder to get South Koreans excited for unified teams and joint marches when North Korea's increasingly aggressive weapons tests and the South's own evolvement as an economy and society continue to erode the public's enthusiasm for reunification.

Bach said that, in addition to those athletes in three sports and five disciplines - women's hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing - North Korea will also send 24 officials, including coaches.

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South Korea's Ministry of Unification on Saturday requested an explanation, and informed the North that Seoul intends to follow the plans agreed to in the high-level talks. That said, the behavior of some opposition party politicians and the conservative press over the course of this controversy has crossed the line.

Photo Hyon Song-wol, the head of a North Korean art troupe, arrived in Seoul on Sunday, attracting curious crowds as well as protests.

However, despite being given a warm welcome by her South Korean hosts not everybody was quite so pleased with her visit.

Efforts to make a show of North Korean and South Korean unity at the next Olympics are drawing a backlash in South Korea.

The trip came as the two Koreas are working out the details on North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics.

The opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held on February 9 and North and South Korea have chose to march with a common flag.

"The North is not only getting a free ride to the event we worked so hard to prepare but also parading this woman like a visiting queen doing us a favour", said one online user.

The high-level meeting between North and South Korea to determine North Korea's participation at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics is already almost finished according to International Olympic Committee staff. Meetings between the International Olympic Committee and each of the countries' representatives lasted late into the evening Friday to lay the groundwork for today's negotiations.