North Korea to Send Performing Squad to Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - Seoul

Sidestepping a months-long stand-off about the North's missile programme, the two sides agreed in the border village of Panmunjom - where the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953 - that Pyongyang would send a 140-strong orchestra to the Games. Both sides also will participate in talks hosted by the International Olympics Committee in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Saturday.

Last week, the U.S. Air Force sent three stealth B-2 Spirit bombers to Guam as South and North Korean officials began discussions on the Winter Olympics.

"We will as ever strive to improve the north-south ties but will never remain an on-looker to sordid acts of chilling the efforts", it said.

Wednesday's North Korean offer on the talks was in response to a South Korean proposal made last Friday to hold working-level talks on Monday.

They also agreed to hold high-level talks next week - the first since 2015 - which will focus on "matters of mutual interest", including the North's participation in the Winter Olympics.

The first ever Winter Olympics in South Korea are to be held in the host city of PyeongChang, 182 kilometers east of Seoul, and two nearby cities - Gangneung and Jeongseon - from February 9-25.

"The south Korean chief executive should not be dreaming", the state-run KCNA news agency said in an editorial, accusing Moon of "brownnosing" the United States. The joint press statement also said that South Korea would "do its best to guarantee the safety and convenience of the North Korean band".

In a meeting with visiting U.S. lawmakers, South Korea's top diplomat on Monday discussed North Korea's participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and called for U.S. Congress' support for the successful hosting of the event.

In a report on North Korean human rights submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in September, the UN special rapporteur on North Korean human rights Tomas Ojea Quintana said some of the women might not have agreed to defect. Given Moranbong Band leader Hyun Song-wol's attendance at the working-level meeting, some analysts expect that she will lead the band on its trip to South Korea.

"They should know that the train and bus carrying our delegation.are still in Pyongyang", it read.

Foreign ministers from various countries meet in Canada on Tuesday to discuss the North Korean nuclear problem, focusing on ways to ensure enforcement of sanctions against the country.

The Moranbong Band is a group of North Korean dancers and musicians in the K-Pop (Korean pop) style, an energetic and genre-blending type of music popular across the world.

  • Rogelio Becker