01/25/2018, 09.30
KOREA

PyeongChang Olympics, dialogue continues. Pyongyang: 'breakthrough' needed for reunification

Today the North Korean athletes of the hockey team arrive. Criticism and applause for Moon: Olympics of Peace or Pyongyang?

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "All Koreans at home and abroad" should "promote contact, travel and cooperation between South Korea and North Korea" to arrive at a "turning point" towards the reunification of the two Koreas, without the influence of third countries.

The declaration was announced today by the Pyongyang state media, in the context of the renewed dialogue between the two countries, welcomed in South Korea with applause but also criticism.

It follows a meeting between the Party and the government, with the approval of the leader Kim Jong-un. The communiqué encourages "tearing down" all reasons for tension, mentioning among them military exercises with "external forces".

The two Koreas relaunched dialogue after Kim’s opening in his new-year speech. On this occasion, the North Korean leader was open to the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics to be held in PyeongChang between February 9 and 25. Seoul immediately seized the olive branch offered by Pyongyang, and from January 9 the negotiations began to establish the terms of the participation of the North, then approved on January 20 by the Olympic Committee in Lausanne (Switzerland).

North Korea has agreed to send 46 sports delegates, including 22 athletes, along with a team of 230 cheerleaders, a taekwondo team and an artistic troupe. Furthermore, it is expected that 2 North Korean athletes will participate in the Paralympics the following month. Today, 12 North Korean athletes have arrived and will join the neighbors in the South in the women's hockey team.

The latter are at the center of criticism and debate in South Korea, where a good 58.7% of the population opposes the choice of the joint team, because "unjust" to the South Korean athletes. In South Korea, the Olympics find two different definitions: "Olympics of Peace" and "Olympics of Pyongyang".

The critics of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose approval rating remains high, argue that the opening to North Korea undermines the credibility of the South Korean position on the denuclearization of the socialist republic, favouring the regime. His supporters countered yesterday celebrating his 66th birthday by launching an online hashtag campaign "#PeaceOlympics" in the hopes they will go viral.

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