North Korea to send another Olympic prep team to South Korea

Hyon Song-Wol

A South Korean intelligence official told the JoongAng Daily in Seoul at the time: "The two have known each other since they were in their teens and rumours about the two having an affair have been circulating among Pyongyang's top elite".

The group will play classic and folk songs familiar to the North and the South around the theme of unification.

Sunday's North Korean delegation had been scheduled to visit on Saturday but cancelled just before the visit with no explanation.

South Korea's opposition party, the Liberty Korea Party, protested against the decision of fielding a unified Korean ice hockey team in the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Sunday. It's headed by Hyon Song Wol, the leader of the Samjiyon Orchestra, which is going to perform in the South.

(From L) PyeongChang 2018 Olympics (POCOG) President Lee Hee-beom, North Korea's Sports Minister and Olympic Committee president Kim Il Guk, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan and South Korea's National Olympic Committee President Lee Kee-heung join their hands as they pose during a signing ceremony at the Olympic Museum on January 20, 2018 in Lausanne.

Seoul said it would review the proposal before responding to the North.

With no official media access given to Hyon, TV stations broadcast live footage of her bus moving on Seoul's roads before arriving at the railway station, where hundreds of police officers were mobilized to maintain order.

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Hyon wore a dark coat and fur muffler as she boarded the train without talking to throngs of journalists at the station. Hyon and the inspectors will then head back to North Korea later in the day.

The other sporting events the North Koreans will compete in are figure skating, short track speed skating, Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.

But Pyongyang said late Friday it had suspended the plan, giving no reason.

Hyon is the lead singer of the Moranbong Band, who were handpicked by Kim Jong-un and serve as the "soft" public face of the regime.

It is the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years, reports say. South Korea is to send its own advance team to North Korea on Tuesday to review logistics for a joint cultural event at the North's Diamond Mountain and their non-Olympic skiers' joint practices at the North's Masik ski resort, the ministry said.

Hyon's arrival came hours after the International Olympic Committee allowed 22 North Korean athletes to take part in the Olympics in exceptional entries given to the North. The North asked that it cross the border by taking the road along the west coast, and check local accommodations, stadiums and Olympic press centers.

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