A South Korean government official has defended the decision to hold joint training session for the skiing team in a North Korean resort claiming it reflects Seoul's wish to make the PyeongChang Winter Olympics a "peace" event.
Recent inter-Korean talks on a joint participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has led to many agreements between South and North Korea. Among them, marching together under an unified Korea flag at the opening ceremony, competing together in at least four categories (figure skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and women’s ice hockey), hosting celebrations at the North's Onjonggak complex on the eve of the Olympics, and a joint training at Masikryong Ski Resort.
The agreements reached Wednesday have generated sharp criticism by of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's political detractors, who have argued the decisions would violate United Nation sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The sanctions complicate the South's ability to provide cash payments to the North for accommodation expenses and other costs implied in joint training exercises.
South Korea's foreign ministry dismissed such concerns. "Our government [...] will work in a way that North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics does not cause any international controversies over violating sanctions on North Korea," spokesperson Noh Kyu-duk said in a press briefing Thursday. Furthermore, an official at Seoul's unification ministry reiterated that "the idea is part of Seoul's vision to make the upcoming event the Peace Olympics."
The improvement in inter-Korean relations follows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's address, in which he expressed willingness to re-establish dialogue with South Korea, calling 2018 the "year of reconciliation."