S. Korea may get North to co-host Olympic ski events

The Masikryong ski resort in North Korea is the only one in the country and the brainchild of its leader Kim Jong Un.
The Masikryong ski resort in North Korea is the only one in the country and the brainchild of its leader Kim Jong Un.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • South Korea has suggested that North Korea co-host some ski events for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

South Korea's newly appointed Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Do Jong Hwan made the suggestion during a visit to Pyeongchang on Tuesday, the JoongAng Ilbo reported yesterday.

He said he plans to discuss the idea with Mr Jang Woong, the North's delegate to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and IOC president Thomas Bach when they visit Seoul later this month for the close of an international taekwondo competition.

The South Korean minister cited North Korea's "top-class" Masikryong ski resort as a potential venue. It is the only one ski resort in the North and the brainchild of the country's leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Do, who stressed the importance of the Olympics as the first major international sporting event for the new administration, said the North's participation in the games should help make Pyeongchang a "Peace Olympics", a term used by President Moon Jae In during his election campaign.

Pyongyang boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympics, which were both held in Seoul, but has since taken part in international sports competitions south of the border, most recently the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to thaw lingering tensions as we try to bring North Korea on board," Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying.

Mr Do also suggested forming an inter-Korean women's ice hockey team to compete at the Winter Games, which open in February. But further talks must be held with the IOC because North Korean athletes have not yet qualified for the winter games, he added.

Despite lingering tensions on the divided peninsula following a string of missile tests by the North, the two Koreas have taken part in a series of sporting exchanges this year, Yonhap news agency said.

In April, the South Korean women's football team faced the North's players in Pyongyang, while the North Korean women's hockey team took on South Korea at the women's hockey world championships held in the South.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2017, with the headline 'S. Korea may get North to co-host Olympic ski events'. Print Edition | Subscribe