Two Koreas start joint training at N. Korean ski resort

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-01-31 14:15 Updated : 2018-01-31 14:15
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Press Corps.]

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Aju News) -- A chartered plane carrying South Korean skiers flew into North Korea Wednesday for a symbolic joint training program after Seoul secured one-time consent from the United States, which has imposed strict sanctions against Pyongyang in retaliation for its nuclear and missile threats.

The plane, which took off from an airport in the eastern coastal town of Yangyang with a 45-member ski delegation on board, was to land at an airport in the North's northeastern port of Wonsan. The delegation included skiers, coaches, supporting personnel and journalists.

Joint training will be conducted for two days at the Masikryong Ski Resort that opened in January 2014 as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's pet project to attract foreign tourists. The plane would return to South Korea on Thursday.

The rare flight by a South Korean plane into North Korea through a sensitive air route off the east coast was arranged through consultations with the United States, according to the South's unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

[Press Corps.]

It was a one-time flight approved by Washington for next month's Winter Olympics, unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters. "The flight was arranged as an exception regardless of sanctions." Vessels and planes that have visited North Korea are banned from entering the United States within 180 days.

The join training program was part of an inter-Korean agreement on the dispatch of North Korean athletes, cheerleaders, a 140-member art troupe and other delegations for the Winter Games. The two Koreas also agreed to field a joint ice hockey team.

North Korea sent ice hockey players for training with their South Korean counterparts but called off a joint cultural event scheduled to be held in the North's Mount Kumgan resort on February 4.