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

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • One million Chinese Covid-19 jabs to start rolling in from February

    The government has confirmed that Covid-19 vaccines from China are set to begin arriving in Cambodia by February. This came as the Ministry of Health recorded two imported cases of Covid-19 on January 18. While calling on people to remain vigilant against the pandemic, ministry spokeswoman