South Korean weightlifters set foot on North Korean soil for the first time in five years on Tuesday to participate in the Asian Cup Weightlifting Championships in Pyongyang that start Thursday.
The delegation consists of 22 athletes and 19 coaches and other staff, who arrived in the North Korean capital via Beijing.
The last time South Korean athletes went to North Korea was in October 2008 to participate in soccer friendly. North Korea, whose weightlifting team won three gold medals at the London Summer Olympics in 2012, in April last year won the nod to host the international match this year.
Some 200 athletes from 15 Asian countries are competing.
In March, North Korea invited South Korea to take part. South Korea’s weightlifting federation asked North Korea if the South Korean flag could be flown and national anthem played. Kim Yong-cheol at the South Korean Weightlifting Federation said North Korea “did not object” and guaranteed the safety of the South Korean athletes.
In 2008, a regional qualifier for the 2010 World Cup between two Koreas had to be moved from Pyongyang to Shanghai because the North refused to allow the South Korean flag and national anthem.
Jeon Chang-bum, who heads the South Korean team, said the championships will open the gates for increased inter-Korean sports exchanges.
Source: The Chosunilbo