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(Olympics) Koreas to hold four joint taekwondo events to celebrate Olympics

2018/01/31 11:45

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SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- The two Koreas will hold a total of four joint taekwondo demonstrations in the South to celebrate the first Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, organizers said Wednesday.

The International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) will send a taekwondo delegation of 34, 28 of whom are North Koreans, to the South on Feb. 7, according to the South Korean unification ministry and World Taekwondo (WT).

Taekwondo practitioners of the North belong to the ITF, a separate taekwondo entity from the WT, a South Korean-led taekwondo governing body and the only taekwondo organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

The North Korean squad will travel to the South by land, across the border, while six members of the ITF leadership are set to travel via air.

South Korean taekwondo athletes of WT and their North Korean ITF counterparts will hold four joint demonstrations, starting on Feb. 9 at the pre-ceremony performances before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul.

A joint squad will stage a follow-up exhibition at the Gangwon Career Education Institute, in the nearby city of Sokcho, the next day. The taekwondo athletes will later travel to Seoul for two demonstrations at Seoul City Hall and MBC TV headquarters in western Seoul, on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14, respectively.

Last June, during the WT World Championships in Muju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, North Korea sent a demonstration team for a total of four performances, including during the opening ceremony of the world championships. It was the first instance of inter-Korean sports exchange under the new Moon Jae-in administration in the South.

The WT and the ITF have different sets of rules, but that hasn't prevented the two organizations from making efforts to work together. Most notably, they signed a landmark agreement in August 2014, titled "Protocol of Accord," which outlined areas of mutual cooperation.

Besides the taekwondo demonstrations, North Korea is also scheduled to stage two art performances in South Korea next month to commemorate its participation in the Winter Olympics.

Pyongyang, however, unilaterally canceled a joint cultural event that was scheduled to be held at the North's Mount Kumgang, citing what it described as "biased" coverage by the South Korean media.

In this file photo taken June 24, 2017, taekwondo demonstrators from North Korea break bricks during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo (WT) World Taekwondo Championships at T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province. (Yonhap) In this file photo taken June 24, 2017, taekwondo demonstrators from North Korea break bricks during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo (WT) World Taekwondo Championships at T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province. (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr

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