Sports officials from two Koreas hold talks on cross-border exchanges

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2017-06-29 11:38 Updated : 2017-06-29 11:38
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap News Photo]


IOC member Chang Ung led a North Korean delegation to secret talks this week with South Korean government and sports officials as President Moon Jae-in made his first overseas trip for a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump that would focus on Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

The rare get-together of South and North Korean sports officials on Wednesday evening at a Seoul restaurant comes at the height of military tensions that have frozen cross-border exchanges and trade.

Sports minister Do Jong-hwan headed the South Korean side which was also attended by prominent sports officials including Korea Sport and Olympic Committee President Lee Kee-heung, Korea Football Association head Chung Mong-gyu and Lee Hee-beom, the top organizer of next year's Winter Olympics in South Korea's eastern ski resort of Pyeongchang. 

Chung conveyed the idea of launching a joint bid by the two Koreas, China and Japan for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, while Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon said North Korean officials gave a positive answer to his proposal for a joint taekwondo performance in Pyeongchang.

"We had frank discussions on inter-Korean sports exchanges," Do told reporters, declining to give details on the closed session. He has proposed forming a joint women's hockey team to compete in Pyeongchang but the North Korean IOC member has maintained an ambiguous attitude since he arrived in South Korea last week with a North Korean taekwondo demonstration team.   

At an open dinner reception Tuesday, Chang described Do's proposal as unrealistic and said it requires clear IOC consent and a friendly inter-Korean mood. "Politics stands above sports," Chang said, adding sports exchanges depend on peaceful cross-border relations. "It's a very difficult issue for political leaders who must take public opinions into consideration... A good political environment paves the way for smooth sports exchanges."

Lim Chang-won = cwlim34@ajunews.com