North Korean Athletes Arrive in South to Affirm Olympic Detente

(Bloomberg) -- More than 30 North Koreans, including 10 athletes, arrived in South Korea, affirming the fragile Winter Olympics truce between the two sides.

The 32-member delegation landed at Yangyang International Airport in the northeast, one month after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un opened the door to cooperation during the Games in Pyeongchang. The team traveled with South Korean skiers after joint training this week at a North Korean ski resort.

The delegation’s arrival should help ease South Korean jitters after North Korea abruptly canceled a joint cultural performance at a mountain resort north of the border. The athletes’ presence will reassure South Korean President Moon Jae-in that Kim intends to let the Games run smoothly and not prompt another round of saber-rattling with the U.S. over his nuclear weapons program.

Won Kil U, the North’s vice minister for physical culture and sports, will lead the athletes, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. The overall head of the delegation has yet to be announced. South Korean media and analysts speculate that it could be led by either Kim’s No. 2 official or his sister.

In all, 22 North Korean athletes will stay at Olympic facilities for the duration of the Games starting Feb. 9. A dozen female ice hockey players have already arrived. The two Koreas will march together under a unification banner at the opening ceremony, the first time they’ve done so since the 2007 Asian Winter Games.

North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra are scheduled to play two concerts in South Korea -- on Feb. 8 in Gangneung and Feb. 11 in Seoul -- in shows that organizers say are for the success of the Games. Residents of South Korea can enter a special lottery for the 1,060 available tickets.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.