PYONGYANG/SEOUL, July 5 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister said Thursday that he has found hope for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula through inter-Korean friendly basketball matches held in Pyongyang this week.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon added that the door has been opened wide for more active sports exchanges going forward thanks to the success of the two-day basketball event.
Cho made the remarks at a farewell dinner hosted by the North after their basketball players wrapped up the last of the friendly matches.
"Those games were all so moving and more dramatic than any drama," Cho said. "I believe that if the South and the North do just like our athletes have done, it will bring us a marked step toward reconciliation and peace."
"By successfully holding the basketball event for reunification, I think that the door for inter-Korean sports exchanges has been opened wide," he added.
Cho, who is leading a 100-strong delegation including athletes and journalists, arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday and is to return home Friday.
He said that as fast as the time in Pyongyang has passed by, the athletes from the two Koreas have seen their friendship deepen.
"I believe that sports exchanges like this will take the lead and help speed up the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration adopted by the leaders of the two Koreas," he said, referring to the summit agreement reached in April.
Hosting the dinner, Choe Hwi, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, said that the joint basketball event had left an "indelible" mark in the minds of many who watched it and demonstrated that the two Koreas are a single country sharing the same blood, language and history.
Choe also underlined the importance of close cooperation, rather than competition, in achieving reunification of the divided peninsula.
"There may be winners and losers in sports games, but on the path to self-determined reunification intended to reconnect severed bloodlines and land, there are no winners or losers," he said.
The two Koreas held four friendly matches at Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium on Wednesday and Thursday. This was the first time in about 15 years that they had played such games.
The event was arranged after high-level officials from the two Koreas met in June to discuss sports exchanges in line with the spirit of the April 27 summit, where their leaders promised to expand cross-border exchanges and contact.
Source: Yonhap News Agency