North Korea has opened talks with South Korea over the possibility their participation in the upcoming Paralympic Games, officials in Seoul have revealed.
The South Korean Unification Ministry, which promotes unity between the two countries still technically at war, confirmed that both sides will meet on the northern side of the inter-Korean border to discuss the North’s participation in the games, which take place March 9 to March 18.
South Korea will send a three-member delegation for the talks to be led by director-general in charge of inter-Korean exchanges Lee Joo-tae, where both sides are expected to discuss which events North Korea will participate in. Any participation would also have to be approved by the International Paralympic Committee.
The efforts come as both countries conclude their joint efforts during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which included marching together under the same banner and fielding a joint ice hockey team.
The regime sent a delegation of around 500 people to the games, including athletes, musicians, and cheerleaders, as well as Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, whose diplomatic charm won over numerous members of the left-wing media.
However, such efforts were met with overwhelming disapproval back in the South, who have found President Moon Jae-in’s efforts distasteful given the North’s shocking disregard for human rights, which include state-run gulags, Stalinist speech codes, public executions, the kidnapping of foreigners, and constant threats to start a devastating nuclear war with South Korea and its allies.
The North’s potential participation in the Paralympic Games will be even more controversial given the regime’s treatment of disabled people. The Telegraph previously reported on studies showing that the regime was “cleansing” members of its population “by making those with mental or physical disabilities disappear.”
There are also claims that the regime conducts medical experiments on the disabled. In a 2014 hearing, the United Nations revealed that such experiments were carried out in “closed hospitals,” while another defector told of how the disabled were sent “for medical tests, such as dissection of body parts, as well as tests of biological and chemical weapons.”
North Korea recently called for greater unification with South Korea despite the build-up of tensions over their nuclear expansion. In a statement broadcast on state media addressed to “all Koreans at home and abroad,” the regime claimed they would “smash” through all potential challenges to reach a “breakthrough” aimed at promoting “contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea.”