SEOUL – South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday that his government will take swift action to help North Korea participate in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his willingness to send a delegation.
“I hope the Unification Ministry and the Ministry of Culture and Sports will swiftly come up with follow-up measures to quickly restore South-North Korean dialogue and realize the North Korean delegation’s participation in the PyeongChang Olympics,” said Moon during a cabinet meeting, according to statements reported by Yonhap news agency.
Moon’s words come after Kim Jong-un said in his year-end speech that his country is prepared to dispatch a delegation for the Olympic event to be held in South Korea between Feb. 9-25.
Kim’s statements, where he also expressed his willingness to engage in dialogue with Seoul, represent the first official announcement of the country’s decision on the games.
During the cabinet meeting, Moon applauded the comments of the North Korean leader, calling them “a response to our proposal to turn the PyeongChang Olympic Games into a groundbreaking chance to improve South-North relations and establish peace.”
In the event of a bilateral dialogue taking place, it would be the first such contact made in more than two years between the two Koreas.
Figure skaters Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-ik are the only two North Korean athletes qualified for the event to be held in PyeongChang county about 70 kilometers south of the inter-Korean border.
Although North Korea did not register these two athletes within the time frame provided, the skaters could still participate if the International Olympic Committee sends them an invitation.