North Korea calls for unification with South Korea and vows to ‘smash’ all challenges to achieving the ‘breakthrough’. Pyongyang made the announcement in a rare address to ‘all Koreans at home and abroad’ today. Kim Jong-un’s state media said all Koreans should ‘promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea’.
The announcement, issued after a joint meeting of government and political parties, added Koreans should wage an energetic drive to defuse military tension and create a peaceful climate on the Korean peninsula.
Military tension on the Korean peninsula was a ‘fundamental obstacle’ for the improvement of inter-Korean relations and unification, the North’s official news agency said.
It added joint military drills with ‘outside forces’ has shown to be unhelpful for the development of relations between North and South Korea.
North Korea did not provide details why the meeting had been held but the statement said it was aimed to support leader Kim Jong Un’s remarks regarding unification from his New Year’s address.
It said this year is meaningful for both North and South Korea because it is the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea while South Korea will be hosting the Winter Olympics next month.
It comes as a delegation of North Korean officials and ice hockey players crossed the heavily guarded border into South Korea on Thursday for joint Olympics training.
The announcement, issued after a joint meeting of government and political parties, added Koreans should wage an energetic drive to defuse the acute military tension and create a peaceful climate on the Korean peninsula
The group included 12 North Korean players who will form a combined women’s ice hockey team with their southern counterparts at next month’s Winter Olympics in the South Korean mountain resort of Pyeongchang.
After going through South Korean checkpoints at the border, the team traveled to a national training centre in Jincheon, 90 km (56 miles) south of Seoul.
Stepping off a bus, the athletes ignored questions as they were mobbed by throngs of media.
They wore puffy winter jackets in the white, blue, and red colours of North Korea’s flag, with ‘DPR Korea’ emblazoned on the back, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In Jincheon, the athletes were met by South Korea head coach Sarah Murray, who previously called the government’s decision to form a joint team a ‘tough situation.’
Under an agreement worked out during the first official talks between the two Koreas in two years, the joint team will wear unity jerseys and march under a unified peninsula flag at the Games’ opening ceremony on February 9.
South Korea has prepared ‘all contingency scenarios’ in case North Korea makes any provacative moves during the Olympics, but the games remain an opportunity for ‘peaceful engagement,’ South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ‘We just need to make the best of it.’
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