N. Korean athletes arrive in the South for Paralympics

North Korean athletes arrive to participate in the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang
AFP

Seoul (AFP) – North Korean athletes and delegates arrived in the South Wednesday to take part in the Winter Paralympics, as part of an Olympics-driven detente between the two neighbours. 

Two competitors — both of them taking part in cross-country skiing — along with four observer athletes and 18 officials crossed the land border north of Seoul before heading for the venues.

Their journey came a day after Seoul announced plans to hold a historic summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in — the latest fruit of their Olympics-fuelled diplomacy. 

Moon sought to use the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Games to try to broker dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in a bid to ease the nuclear standoff between them.

The North mounted a charm offensive by sending hundreds of cheerleaders and Kim’s sister to the opening ceremony of the Games, during which athletes from the two Koreas marched together under a neutral “unification flag”.

Seoul responded by sending Moon’s special envoys — including his spy chief — to Pyongyang this week, where leader Kim told them he was willing to discuss denuclearisation with the US. 

The two Koreas’ disabled athletes are set to march together during Friday’s opening ceremony for the Paralympics, which run until March 18.

It is the first time the North has taken part in the Winter Paralympics.

.