Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korea Seeks North’s Explanation for Canceling Advance Team Visit

  • N.Korea sent notice on cancellation without giving reasons
  • The South is prepared, can set new date: unification minister

South Korea has officially asked North Korea to explain why it canceled dispatching an advance team to the South to prepare for concerts during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, according to Yonhap.

On Friday night, Pyongyang suddenly withdrew an earlier offer to send an advance team over the weekend to South Korea to check performance venues. The team, led by Hyon Song Wol, the leader of a North Korean orchestra, was slated to arrive on Saturday.

“We’ve conveyed our stance to the North, saying the South is fully ready for the visit of North’s advance team and that we can discuss a new date again,” Yonhap reported South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon as saying in Seoul. The unification ministry said North Korea did not mention a reason in its notification canceling the dispatch, according to an emailed statement earlier.

The drawback comes just as tensions between the two Koreas were easing, with North Korea now set to participate in the Winter Olympics for the first time in eight years.

As a result of talks in January, the North will send a 140-member orchestra to hold concerts in cities in its southern neighbor during the winter games and the two Koreas will march jointly under one unified flag during the Olympics opening ceremony scheduled Feb. 9.

The International Olympics Committee will hold a meeting on Saturday to discuss the participation of North Korean athletes in the winter games.

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