South and North Korean skiers begin joint training sessions Wednesday

The South Korean delegation led by Lee Joo-tae, director-general for the inter-Korean exchange inspected the venues in the Mount Kumgang area and Masikryong Ski Resort. Photo by EPA-EFE/Kim Chul-soo.

SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 31 (UPI) — South and North Korean skiers begin joint training sessions on Wednesday at the North’s Masikryong Resort, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.

A ministry official confirmed that a delegation of 45 skiers, officials and reporters from the South would travel to the North that day for a two-day training session, as initially planned.

After uncertainty surrounding the exchange, following the North’s abrupt cancellation of an inter-Korean cultural event, Seoul finalized the itinerary early Wednesday morning.

The team boarded a chartered plane at Yangyang International Airport in Gangwon Province to make their way to the North’s Kalma Airport, which is a 45-minute drive from the training venue, Yonhap reported.

Seoul also confirmed that after the training, South Korean skiers will return on a chartered flight with North Korean alpine skiers and cross country skiers competing in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The two Koreas agreed to hold the joint training of their skiers during a high-level meeting on Jan. 9, as a means of strengthening cross-border relations ahead of the Winter Games.

The Unification Ministry said the arrangements had been finalized last minute as Seoul had to coordinate the details of the trip with various parties, including the United States, to ensure there won’t be any issues surrounding sanctions on the North.

United Nations Security Council resolutions and South Korean government sanctions do not contain provisions that bar South Korean planes from entering North Korea.

However, the Trump administration banned aircraft that land in North Korea from entering the U.S. for 180 days.

Seoul and Washington are believed to have agreed the chartered Asiana Airlines plane transporting the Korean athletes won’t be subject to U.S. sanctions, News 1 reported.

Also, Seoul will not pay fees for landing the plane at Kalma Airport or for entering North Korean airspace as such payments would violate international sanctions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here