North Korea cancels visit to prepare for Olympic performance in the South: Yonhap

North Korean cheerleaders holding the "unified Korea" flag during the Summer Universiade 2003 in Daegu, South Korea.
North Korean cheerleaders holding the "unified Korea" flag during the Summer Universiade 2003 in Daegu, South Korea.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korea has cancelled a visit by a delegation to South Korea to prepare for a trip by an art troupe during next month's Winter Olympics, Seoul's Unification Ministry was quoted as saying by South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Friday (Jan 19).

The North did not give a reason for the cancellation, Yonhap quoted the ministry as saying.

Pyongyang notified Seoul that it will suspend the seven-member team’s trip - scheduled on Saturday - to check the venues for its proposed art performances in Seoul and Gangnueng, which is 260km east of Seoul.
 
Ms Hyon Song Wol, leader of the North’s all-female Moranbong Band, was supposed to lead the delegation on the two-day trip. The 10-member band, established in 2012 with members supposedly chosen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is known for its Western-style, synthesiser-driven music and sophisticated fashion style rare in the reclusive nation, although most of their songs laud the regime.
 
North and South Korea held working-level talks on Monday, and the North agreed to send a 140-member art troupe, consisting of an orchestra, singers and dancers, for concerts in the South. Ms Hyon was part of the delegation taking part in Monday’s talks.
 
The art troupe will be part of the North Korean delegation to the Feb 9-25 Olympics that will also include athletes and high-ranking officials, Yonhap reported.
 
Pyongyang agreed last week to send athletes, high-level officials, and others to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, easing months of high tensions over its weapons programmes.