Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - North Korean athletes arrive in the South for Paralympics



North Korean athletes arrive in the South for Paralympics

North Korean athletes arriveat the Korean-transit office near the Demilitarized Zone in Paju to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games. AFP
North Korean athletes arriveat the Korean-transit office near the Demilitarized Zone in Paju to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games. AFP

North Korean athletes arrive in the South for Paralympics

North Korean athletes and delegates arrived in the South today to take part in the Winter Paralympics, as part of an Olympics-driven detente between the two neighbours.

Two competitors – both of them taking part in cross-country skiing – along with four observer athletes and 18 officials crossed the land border north of Seoul before heading for the venues.

Their journey came a day after Seoul announced plans to hold a historic summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in – the latest fruit of their Olympics-fuelled diplomacy.

Moon sought to use the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Games to try to broker dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in a bid to ease the nuclear standoff between them.

The North mounted a charm offensive by sending hundreds of cheerleaders and Kim’s sister to the opening ceremony of the Games, during which athletes from the two Koreas marched together under a neutral “unification flag”.

Seoul responded by sending Moon’s special envoys – including his spy chief – to Pyongyang this week, where leader Kim told them he was willing to discuss denuclearisation with the US.

The North Korean athletes – Kim Jong-hyon and Ma Yu-chol – may march with their counterparts from the South during Friday’s opening ceremony for the Paralympics, which run until March 18.

The pair made their international debuts in a tournament in January in Oberried, Germany.

It is the first time the North, which has often faced criticism for its cruel treatment of disabled people, has taken part in the Winter Paralympics.

Pyongyang had previously sent athletes to the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and the 2016 edition of the games in Rio.

Craig Spence, a spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said the athletes had been given “bipartite” slots for the games, meaning they had not been able to meet the full qualification criteria.

“They have bipartite invitations from us due to their circumstances. They have not been travelling around the world and have not been able to take part in all the qualifying events,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • Two major S’ville events could jumpstart international tourism: insiders

    Preah Sihanouk province is set to host two major international tourism-related events in late 2021 and early 2022, which insiders expect to ignite new interest among new and repeat foreign holidaymakers into visiting the Kingdom and significantly raise tourist arrivals from near zero in the Covid era.