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(LEAD) (Olympics) N. Korean athletes arrive in S. Korea for PyeongChang Olympics

2018/02/01 20:10

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YANGYANG, South Korea, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korean Olympic athletes arrived in South Korea on Thursday for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Games.

A delegation of 32, including 10 athletes, arrived at Yangyang International Airport on a South Korean chartered plane around 6:09 p.m., according to a pool report. The airport is about 50 kilometers north of Gangneung, the sub-host city for all ice events, located just east of PyeongChang.

After clearing customs, the North Korean athletes left the airport shortly after 7 p.m. and headed straight to Gangneung Olympic Village, which mainly accommodates athletes in ice sports, without answering questions from the media.

The North's delegation was led by its Vice Sports Minister Won Kil-u and included three alpine skiers, three cross-country skiers, two figure skaters and two short track speed skaters.

Asked to describe his feelings after arriving in South Korea, Won said, "I send regards from our people of the North to the people in the South."

   Won, too, declined to answer further questions.

North Korean figure skater Ryom Tae-ok smiles on a bus to Gangneung Olympic Village after landing at Yangyang International Airport in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 1, 2018. Ryom is one of 22 North Korean athletes set to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap) North Korean figure skater Ryom Tae-ok smiles on a bus to Gangneung Olympic Village after landing at Yangyang International Airport in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 1, 2018. Ryom is one of 22 North Korean athletes set to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

A dozen women's ice hockey players, along with three officials, came to South Korea on Jan. 25 to start training with 23 South Koreans as part of a historic unified team.

The Koreas agreed on the North's participation in PyeongChang 2018, the first Winter Olympics to take place in South Korea, on Jan. 17. Three days later, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved North Korea's participation and said it will accredit 22 athletes and 24 officials from North Korea.

Joining the 15-member hockey delegation in South Korea are three coaches, 10 athletes and 18 support staff members. It wasn't immediately clear why or how one person was added to the original delegation of 46.

The 10 athletes who arrived Thursday will check into Gangneung Olympic Village later in the evening. The women's hockey players will play Sweden in a pre-Olympic tuneup match at 6 p.m. Sunday in Incheon, just west of Seoul, and travel to Gangneung after the game.

The newly arrived North Korean delegation was accompanied by South Korean alpine skiers who trained at the North's Masikryong Ski Resort earlier in the week.

These South Koreans joined with North Korean skiers for friendly races and training, the first time that Korean athletes held joint training without assembling a unified team for a competition.

North Korean Vice Sports Minister Won Kil-u waves after arriving at Yangyang International Airport in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 1, 2018. Won is head of the North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap) North Korean Vice Sports Minister Won Kil-u waves after arriving at Yangyang International Airport in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 1, 2018. Won is head of the North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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