North Korea has called for unification with South Korea despite the build-up of tensions between both countries and their allies.
In a statement broadcast on state television addressed to “all Koreans at home and abroad,” the rogue communist state called for a “breakthrough” to “promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea.”
The country added that military tension on the peninsula presented a “fundamental obstacle” to negotiations, but claimed they would “smash” all challenges presented by a unification process.
“Let us wage an energetic drive to defuse the acute military tension and create a peaceful climate on the Korean Peninsula!” the agency added.
The message came following a meeting of government officials as both countries seek to finalize plans for South Korea’s hosting of this year’s Winter Olympics.
At the upcoming games, the two countries plan to field a joint women’s ice hockey team at the Winter Olympics and parade together under one flag in what will be a symbolic step following over 60 years of separation.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yon has also confirmed that Seoul will allow a “massive [North Korean] delegation totaling between 400-500 people” to support their 22 athletes competing at the games, as well as a team of beautiful young cheerleaders.
Yet as the North Korean squad arrived in South Korea, several dozen protesters began chanting anti-North Korean slogans and even held up a sign calling for the beheading of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.
South Korea’s left-wing president Moon Jae-in was elected on a promise of negotiation and increased dialogue with the North, although recent polls suggest his approval rating has dropped amid distaste over his efforts to include North Korea within the international community.
Opinion polls suggest around 70 percent of South Koreans are opposed to the team, believing that it will deprive their athletes of their Olympic dream to promote a totalitarian regime.
Moon visited the distraught South Koreans missing out on an Olympic games, reportedly telling them that “showing unity and hope may be more important than winning.”
The unity efforts have come as a surprise to the international community, who have seen tensions with the North escalate over the past year as they aggressively develop their nuclear program and threaten war against the United States and other regional allies such as Japan.