Seoul hopeful of North-South Korean Olympic team

South Korea's Unification Ministry said Monday it was "expecting" North Korea to agree to form a joint team at next year's first Winter Olympics on the peninsula.

President Moon Jae-in made the proposal over the weekend in line with the rare visit of a North Korean demonstration squad to the South for the World Taekwondo Championships. Amid frayed ties with Pyongyang, Moon is hopeful sport could be a unifying force.

"If the North accepts the president's offer, there will be many tasks to be done at the working level," ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng admitted in comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.

"We are expecting the North to [positively] respond to Moon's proposal," Lee added.

Despite being technically at war, the Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and also famously joined forces for the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships.

But the North's only member of the International Olympic Committee, Chang Ung, reportedly expressed doubts about whether there would be enough time to agree on the details of a unified team, according to a South Korean taekwondo official also cited by Yonhap.

"When we fielded a joint team at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships, there were 22 rounds of inter-Korean talks, and they took five months," Chang cautioned during a dinner reception in the South Saturday.
Contact Us