Winter Olympics organisers confident of sellout

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads an inspection while Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea and the younger sister of Kim Jong-Un follow him (KNS KCNA  AFP  File  MANILA BULLET

The North Korean ferry Mangyongbong-92 carrying the 140-member Samjiyon art troupe arrived in South Korea at 5 p.m. on Seoul's blessing to temporarily lift sanctions on the vessel.

Kim, who is the head of parliament in North Korea, will attend the PyeongChang opening ceremony, which will also be attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

As his guest for the Games opening ceremony on Friday, Pence is bringing the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months and died in June 2017 from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.

It said the North's delegation includes Kim and three other officials but gave no further details like its itinerary.

The UNGA President will call on the South Korean President Moon Jae-in, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Wednesday it has opened another arbitration procedure for 15 athletes and coaches who have appealed against their exclusion from the Pyeongchang Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

With performances set for later this week, the North proposed on Sunday that the art troupe use a ferry for transportation and lodging, according to the Unification Ministry.

"Our basic stance is to respect the IOC's decision concerning the use of the Korean peninsula particular, for IOC-run events", foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told journalists. Spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said the government will discuss with the United States and other countries so it would raise no problem with sanctions. The North's cheerleaders first appeared at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.

Some conservative protesters burned a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the North's flag as the ship arrived at the port, but police quickly intervened.

The Samjiyon art troupe consisting of an orchestra, dancers and singers is slated to perform in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, a subhost city of the February 9-25 Winter Games on Thursday and in Seoul on Sunday. Yi said around 60,000 security personnel would guard Olympics venues. As it was reported last week, President of North Korea's Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and the ceremonial head of the country Kim Yong Nam will lead a high-level delegation to the Olympics.

The war-separated rivals are cooperating for a series of conciliatory measures during the Olympics, which Seoul sees as an opportunity to ease tensions with Pyongyang following an extended period of animosity over its nuclear weapons and missiles program.

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun carried an article with a photo on Tuesday saying the delegation left Pyongyang the previous day. Choe is subject to unilateral sanctions imposed by South Korea in 2016.

"This time, if he gets to meet Moon, he could convey Kim Jong-un's message or invitation to Pyongyang", Cheong said.



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