Athletic diplomacy, specifical basketball, seems to be another avenue that Moon Jae-in government is taking to bridge the gap between North and South.
North Korea held a welcoming dinner for high-level South Korean delegates and athletes at Okryu-gwan in downtown Pyongyang. The meal was held in anticipation of a South-North unification basketball tournament and included the Kim Il-guk, Minister of Physical Culture and Sports and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Vice Sports Minister Won Kil-woo.
On the other side, South Korean government representatives and 50 athletes included Unification Minister Cho Myung-kyun, Vice Minister of Unification, Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Noh Tae-gang and Korean Sports President Lee Ki-heung were in attendance.
In a welcoming speech for the event, Minister Kim said expressed satisfaction when he said: “It is a meaningful time, I sat down with the athletes who will participate in the South-North unification basketball games.” He then referred to the Olympics and a concert that happened earlier this year, saying “In February and April, North and South Korean artists came back and forth, and sang songs to show that the Korean people are inseparable from each other.”
In a toast to formally begin the athletic summit, Minister Kim said “For the health fo the leader of North and South Korea who scheduled such a meaningful meeting, and the head coach(es) of the participating athletes in the unification basketball games, let us raise our glasses to ensure the success of the [games].”
Further talking about the games, Minister Cho stressed that the tournament was the first since the April 27 inter-Korean summit. As such, the significance of the meeting was more important than the outcome Cho said. Additionally, the Minister considered this event as the first to directly emphasize “national reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula” at such a critical time in international politics.
On another note, the North Korean style cold noodles, of naengmyeon made another appearance after becoming a sensation in the first half of the year. More, when reporters asked if Kim Jong-un planned to attend a match, a North Korean official said that nothing is certain.
Translated by O.C
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