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Sports

North Korea goes to the Winter Games!

media South and North Korean delegations attend their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9, 2018. Reuters

North Korea said it was willing to send athletes and a high-level delegation to the forthcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. The announcement came after North and South Korea held their first official talks in more than two years.

The talks were held in Panmunjom, the village in the Demilitarized Zone that splits the peninsula, where in 1953 the armistice was signed.

"The North side proposed dispatching a high-level delegation, a National Olympic Committee delegation, athletes, supporters, art performers, observers, a taekwondo demonstration team and journalists" to the Games, Chun Hae-Song, South Korea’s Vice Minister for Unification told reporters.

Looking businesslike, the south's unification minister Cho Myoung-Gyon and the north's chief delegate Ri Son-Gwon shook hands at the entrance to the building, and again across the negotiating table.

Ri wore a badge on his left lapel bearing an image of the country's founding father Kim Il-Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-Il, while Cho sported one depicting the South Korean flag.

In his New Year adress, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had praised the Olympic Winter Gamesl, saying that they could “serve as a good occasion for demonstrating our nation's prestige.”

South Korea then called for direct talks and days later, Seoul and Washington said they would suspend joint military exercises that were planned for next month, in order to what the White House called “de-conflict the Olympic Games.”

North Korea then accepted an invitation by the South to hold direct talks.

If the North does indeed send athletes to the Olympic Games in Pyongchang, it will be the first time North Korea participates in the Winter Games in eight years.

North Korea has a history of missing the games. It boycotted the event seven times.

In 1988, Pyongyang wanted desperately to co-host the 1988 Seoul Olympics and even started building a massive stadium and a village for athletes.

But talks fell apart, and in response, North Korean agents planted a bomb on a Korean Air passenger plane in 1987 that killed all 115 people on board.

North Korea has not been too successful in the Olympic Winter games either

In all the 23 Winter Olympics ever organized, North Korea won only 2 medals, one bronze, one silver, the silver for speed skating, in Innsbruck 1964, and the bronze for short track speed skating in Albertville, 1992.

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