Head of Popular Girl Band Leads North Korean Team to South Korea

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In the agreement approved on Saturday, 12 North Korean women's hockey players will join their neighbours in a united roster playing in special uniforms, and with a Korean song as their anthem.

President Moon, who lobbied for the North's participation in the games well before Pyongyang agreed to it this month, has said it will help ease the tensions that have built up on the peninsula during the past year over the North's nuclear and missile tests. North Koreans will compete under their own flag in all other sports.

North Korea will send 22 athletes to next month's Winter Games in the South, the International Olympic Committee said today, and confirmed that the two nations will march together at the opening ceremony.

Not all South Koreans are in the mood.

But the South Korean Unification Ministry announced an unprecedented range of joint activities between the countries for the Games following talks Wednesday at the Demilitarized Zone.

"It would have a significant meaning if the South and North show reconciliation and unity, for example through a joint march".

The actual team of North Korean athletes taking part could be in single figures.

"Why are we doing this?" he asked.

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Reclusive North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

While the liberal Moon remains a popular president nine months into his term, the controversy over the hockey team factored in his approval rating dipping below 70 percent for the first time in four months, according to a Gallup Korea report on Friday.

The North Korean delegation had been scheduled to visit yesterday but cancelled just before the visit with no explanation.

Bach said the International Olympic Committee made "exceptional decisions" to ensure the participation of North Korean athletes since none qualified for the competition.

The prospect of a combined team had always been unsettling for the South Korean players.

“The participation of a united Korean team is a good idea politically and diplomatically, but when it comes to fairness in sport it raises some questions, ” Swiss ice hockey federation spokesman Janos Kick told AFP.

"Isn't it amusing that the same country is now asking athletes to cut back on their playing time and embrace changes that would make them less likely to win?" While South Korea hopes to use the games to improve relations with its rival after a year of animosity involving North Korea's rapidly expanding nuclear weapons program, some experts view Kim's overture as an attempt to weaken USA -led worldwide sanctions against the North and buy time to further advance his nuclear weapons program.

The North previous year staged a nuclear test and test-fired multiple long-range missiles believed to be capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

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