South Korea taekwondo team's Pyongyang trip in doubt

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (centre) posing with North Korean Taekwondo Demonstraition team during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo Championships in the southern county of Muju on June 24, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/THE BLUE HOUSE

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea has backtracked on a promise to invite a South Korean taekwondo demonstration team to Pyongyang next month, a spokeswoman said on Friday (Aug 25), putting the trip in doubt amid political tensions.

Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, is as divided as the Korean peninsula, with the South Korean-based World Taekwondo (WT) organisation - which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee - holding its world championships in June in the South.

A team from the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) performed a demonstration, and both agreed that a WT team would reciprocate at the ITF's world championships in Pyongyang in September.

But the ITF told WT, in a letter sent last week, that it would be "inappropriate" to go ahead, a WT spokeswoman told AFP.

"We've sent a mail to ITF headquarters for clarification and we are now waiting for a reply," he said.

The ITF gave no reasons for the about-face, but it comes amid high tensions over the nuclear-armed North's weapons programmes, which saw it subjected to a seventh round of United Nations Security sanctions earlier this month after it carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

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