North Korean delegation in South Korea to inspect concert venues

United States' Becca Hamilton releases the stone during a match against Switzerland in the Women's World Curling Championship in Beijing. No one will work longer hours at the Pyeongchang Olympics than

North Korean music and arts officials arrived in South Korea on Sunday, the first of a series of visits to prepare for the North's last-minute participation in next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

A day earlier, the ministry said North Korea had canceled the advance trip, then scheduled for Saturday, without an explanation.

It is still more likely than not that North Korea will participate in the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month - but only just.

"It would look freaky to have a military parade in Pyongyang, just a day before the opening of what the South has declared a "Peace Olympics", Ahn Chan-Il, an analyst at the World Institute for North Korea Studies, told AFP.

The two Koreas have agreed to march together under a unification flag - a pale blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula - at the Games' opening ceremony on February 9, and to form a unified women's ice hockey team.

The PyeongChang Games have "opened the door for peaceful dialogue on the Korean peninsula", and shown that "Olympic sport always builds bridges" and "never erects walls", Bach said.

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The two Koreas will exchange visits of working-level officials later this week to continue consultations on issues related to the North's participation in the Olympics and the ensuing Paralympics. Several years ago, South Korean media were rife with speculation that she had been machine-gunned to death at the orders of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who was rumored to be her ex-lover.

Those include figure skating, short-track speed skating, cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing, as well as hockey, with the International Olympic Committee having approved the entry of the joint team, despite concerns voiced by some hockey federations over fairness.

The current mood of reconciliation between the Koreas flared after Kim abruptly expressed his willingness to improve ties and send a delegation to the Olympics during his annual New Year's address.

Pyongyang has said it also plans to send another team of sports officials to inspect Olympic venues and accommodations from January 25-27, South Korea's unification ministry said.

Head of North Korean delegation Kwon Hyok Bong, center, and Hyon Song Wol, the head of the Moranbong Band, left.

The roster will include 12 players from the north and 23 from the south.

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