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The Financial Express

Koreas begin talks on Olympic art troupe

| Updated: January 15, 2018 14:03:20


A view of a meeting between two Koreas at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone. Photo taken January 9, 2018. Reuters A view of a meeting between two Koreas at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone. Photo taken January 9, 2018. Reuters

North and South Korea have begun talks on Pyongyang's plan to send an art troupe to the Winter Olympics taking place next month in the South.

North Korea agreed last week to send a delegation to the Games, easing months of tensions between the neighbours over its nuclear programme.

Seoul then proposed wider talks on Monday about the North's participation.

But Pyongyang instead offered to discuss just the attendance of its state-run artistic performers.

South Korea had been pushing for the North to be involved in the Games dubbed the "Peace Olympics", saying it was a chance to improve relations between the two Koreas.

The two sides are meeting in the shared border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), also known as truce village.

Four delegates from each side were scheduled to attend the talks, with the North's delegation including Hyon Song-wol, the leader of the popular all-female pop group, the Moranbong Band.

Formed in 2012, all band members are reportedly hand-picked by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un himself.

Their music is a synthesiser-heavy mix of Western classics and Pyongyang propaganda songs including "We Call Him Father" - an ode to Mr Kim.

The changing line-up is made up of singers and multi-instrumentalists, playing anything from electric guitars to synthesiser, violin and saxophone.

In 2015, the band was rumoured to have been purged, even executed, when it briefly vanished from public view for several weeks.

The two sides are expected to discuss details including the number of performers, their travel route and schedules, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Last week, during the first high level talks in more than two years between the countries, Pyongyang said it would send athletes, cheerleaders, an art troupe and a taekwondo team to the Winter Olympics taking place from 9-25 February in Pyeongchang.

North and South Korea are set to hold talks with the International Olympics Committee in Switzerland next Saturday to discuss the participation of North Korean athletes at the Games.

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