PYONGYANG/SEOUL, July 6 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) — North Korea will send a delegation of 16 players and nine officials to an international table tennis tournament in South Korea later this month, Seoul’s sports ministry said Friday.
The ministry announced the results of an overnight session of sports talks between the two Koreas. South Korean Vice Sports Minister Roh Tae-kang and his North Korean counterpart Won Kil-u began their meeting in Pyongyang at 11:45 p.m. Thursday, and their talks continued a little past 1 a.m. Friday, according to the ministry.
Roh had been in Pyongyang since Tuesday with other sports officials and the national men’s and women’s basketball teams for a series of friendly matches with North Korea in Pyongyang on Wednesday and Thursday.
The ministry said the North first proposed holding talks over matters related to inter-Korean sports exchanges.
During that meeting, North Korea said it will have a 25-deep delegation at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Platinum Korean Open in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, from July 17-22. The North said its team will arrive in South Korea on July 15 and leave the country on July 23.
The ITTF announced North Korea’s participation Thursday, without specifying how many athletes will cross the border.
Also during the sports talks, the North said it would participate in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Shooting Championships in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.
Pyongyang hasn’t informed the ISSF of its intention to compete in the event. Once its participation is finalized, North Korea said it will send a 21-member delegation to South Korea on Aug. 31, with the departure scheduled for Sept. 15.
In other areas of sports cooperation, the Koreas agreed on June 28 to form joint teams in women’s basketball, rowing and dragon boat racing during the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
During the latest meeting, the two sides said they should continue to work through whatever challenges may arise for unified teams, because the leaders of the two Koreas — South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — had agreed upon the idea during their April 27 summit.
Roh and Won also noted that the national Olympic bodies of the two Koreas should deal with matters related to joint teams at the Asian Games.
The South asked the North to schedule joint practices ahead of the Asian Games as soon as possible. South Korea is hoping North Korean rowers and dragon boat peddlers will cross the border soon to train with South Koreans. Since those two aren’t major sports in North Korea, holding joint practices north of the border may prove difficult, according to the South.
As for basketball exhibitions, South Korea is hoping to have North Korea pay a reciprocal visit sometime in the fall, though the exact date hasn’t been determined.
Source: Yonhap News Agency