North Korea will likely send a figure skating pair to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, the country’s representative to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Saturday.
The member, Chang Ung, spoke to reporters at Beijing’s International Airport and said that North Korea “will probably participate,” according to Japanese news service Kyodo. Chang is believed to be headed to Switzerland, where the IOC is headquartered, to discuss North Korea’s participation in the Games. The Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The two figure skaters, Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-sik, qualified for the Olympics but missed a registration deadline. The IOC said that they would make an exception to allow them to participate.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un indicated in a New Year’s speech that he could consider sending a delegation to the Olympics in South Korea, a country North Korea is technically still at war with. Following the speech, communications between the two countries via a telephone hotline resumed after it was abandoned for nearly two years.
North Korean and South Korea are scheduled to have high-level talks Tuesday at the Peace House, a meeting place inside the demilitarized zone — a heavily fortified border that separates the two countries.
President Donald Trump, who has previously indicated he thought talks with North Korea were a waste of time, said Saturday that he was supportive of talks but that they would need certain conditions.
“Sure, I always believe in talking,” said Trump at a news conference at Camp David. “At the same time, if we can come up with a very peaceful and a very good solution. … If something happens and something comes out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all humanity, it would be a great thing for all the world.”
South Korea hopes that by participating in the Games, North Korea will not disrupt them with ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons tests. Last year, North Korea tested its largest nuclear weapon to date and launched a number of provocative ballistic missiles.
Some experts believe that Kim's overture toward South Korea is meant to drive a wedge between the country and its close ally, the U.S.
Trump has been openly hostile toward North Korea especially Kim, who he has taken to calling “Rocket Man.”