Before Olympics, a Surprise Meeting in 'Truce' Village
North, South Korea agree to talks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2018 2:38 AM CST
The mascot of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, the white tiger "Soohorang," is seen at a shop in downtown Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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(Newser) – Next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea may have a participant that seemed extremely unlikely a few months ago: North Korea. South Korean officials say the North has accepted an offer to hold high-level talks next week, and the meeting will focus on the North's participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics, the BBC reports. The Jan. 9 meeting, expected to be held in the "truce village" of Panmunjom, will be the first high-level meeting between the Koreas since December 2015. The move follows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's Day suggestion that Pyongyang might send a delegation to the Games, and a surprise call from the North Wednesday on a hotline that had been closed since 2016.

In another sign of thawing relations, South Korea has decided to delay joint war games with the US that were scheduled to take part during the Olympics. The Wall Street Journal reports that the US agreed to Seoul's request to delay the exercises, which is believed to have been a move Kim insisted on before Pyongyang would discuss participating in the Games. North Korean participation in the Olympics wouldn't be unprecedented, the AP reports. Pyongyang boycotted the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but it has sent delegations to other Games, and the Koreas have marched together under a "unification flag" three times, most recently in 2006. But if the country does decide to join the Pyeongchang Games, only pair skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik are currently qualified to go.

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