North Korea last-minute cancels planned trip to South

Jan. 19 (UPI) — North Korea may be canceling a trip planned for its leading performing artists to the South, only 12 hours after Pyongyang agreed to send the delegation to check South Korean facilities ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The possible cancelation came late Friday evening, Seoul time, Yonhap reported.

An unnamed South Korean unification ministry official said the message from the North included the word “stop,” when describing the reversal of an earlier decision, according to the report.

“About 10 p.m. on Friday, North Korea notified our side a trip scheduled for [Saturday] will be stopped,” or suspended, the official said.

The memo was from the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea’s vice chairman.

The letter was addressed to Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyun.

The inter-Korea channel of communication in Panmunjom is open on the weekend, and Seoul plans to confirm the reasons for the sudden reversal.

It is unclear whether the trip has been definitely canceled or postponed ahead of the Winter Games.

Yonhap’s source said there are hopes the North will reschedule the trip for performers that include Moranbong Band leader Hyon Song Wol.

Newsis had previously reported Hyon would be one of seven North Koreans who were to travel to the South.

A source in North Korea has previously claimed Hyon, who may have been behind the Moranbong Band’s decision to abruptly leave Beijing during a tour in 2015, was the last mistress of former leader Kim Jong Il.

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