North Korean skiers and skaters arrive in South for Winter Olympics

Vastavam web: North Korean skiers and skaters were due to arrive in the South today to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Games, setting the stage for a “peace Olympics” after a year of high tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.Eight days before the opening ceremony, 10 North Korean skiers and skaters were to fly in on a chartered Asiana Airlines plane, in a rare direct flight between the two halves of the divided peninsula for which a special exemption had to be sought from US sanctions.The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are being held in a hitherto little-known part of the South, but have triggered a sudden apparent rapprochement between the two Koreas.

In the past year tensions reached fever pitch as Pyongyang carried out a series of weapons tests including intercontinental ballistic missiles that brought the US mainland into range, and its most powerful nuclear blast to date while Kim and US President Donald Trump traded personal insults and threats of war.But in his New Year speech Kim finally expressed a willingness to send a delegation to Pyeongchang, triggering a rapid series of events.

The two Koreas held their first high-level talks for two years at Panmunjom, the truce village in the Demilitarized Zone that splits the peninsula.Pyongyang agreed to send athletes, cheerleaders, officials and an art troupe to the South, and both sides decided to march together under a unification flag at the opening ceremony and form a joint women’s ice hockey team.