Stars of Asiad

(LEAD) (Asiad) N. Korea checks in at athletes' village

2014/09/18 15:52

By Kim Boram

INCHEON, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- On the eve of the Asian Games, athletes from North Korea were officially welcomed into the athletes' village Thursday, along with those from five other countries, including China and Thailand.

At the welcoming ceremony, flags of the six countries were raised high at the village as the athletes who also included those from Yemen, Bangladesh and Singapore vowed to meet their goals at the multisport event that kicks off on Friday.

"I sincerely welcome all athletes from Yemen, Bangladesh, Singapore, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, China and Thailand," said Lee Elisa, head of the athletes' quarters. "I hope you can develop strong friendships and great memories during your stay at the athletes' village."

   The Democratic People's Republic of Korea refers to the North's official name.

Led by Kim Byong-sik, some 30 North Korean athletes from the football, boxing and weightlifting teams attended the ceremony dressed in white jackets and blue pants or skirts.

"I can't say anything before the game starts," Kim told reporters after the ceremony. "We've fully prepared for the competition."

   Sok Yong-bom, who coaches the North Korean boxers, said he feels good in Incheon.

"We are in a good mood," said Sok. "I feel we will do a better job here."

  The North Korean team attends a welcome ceremony at the athletes' village of the 17th Asian Games on Sept. 18, 2014. (Yonhap) The North Korean team attends a welcome ceremony at the athletes' village of the 17th Asian Games on Sept. 18, 2014. (Yonhap)

North Korea sent a 273-member delegation to this year's Asiad south of the border, including 150 athletes competing in 14 sports. They are hoping to win about 10 golds, in wrestling and women's football among others, to finish in the top 10.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae visited the athletes' quarters, looked around facilities and encouraged his officials working there, according to a ministry source.

The Ministry of Unification, in charge of North Korean affairs for the Seoul government, has sent some 30 officials to the village to support the North's delegation and run a situation room on site.

The source said Ryoo did not meet with the North Koreans during his visit.

The athletes' village is located in Guwol-dong in the central part of the city. The village features 2,220 units in 22 new apartment buildings in three blocks. About 14,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries are expected in Incheon for the 16-day competition.