In this photo provided by South Korea Unification Ministry, the head of South Korean delegation Lee Woo-sung, right, shakes hands with the head of North Korean delegation Kwon Hook Bong, left, before their meeting at the North side of Panmunjom in North Korea, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. Officials from the Koreas met Monday to work out details about North Korea’s plan to send an art troupe to the South during next month’s Winter Olympics, as the rivals tried to follow up on the North’s recent agreement to cooperate in the Games in a conciliatory gesture following months of nuclear tensions. (South Korea Unification Ministry via AP)

North Korean orchestra, maybe joint hockey team at Olympics

Officials from the Koreas met Monday to work out details about North Korea’s plan to send an art troupe to the South during next month’s Winter Olympics

North Korea’s delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea will include a 140-member orchestra, the two sides agreed Monday, while discussions continue over fielding a joint women’s hockey team.

The two Koreas met Monday for the second time in a week as they try to hammer out details for the North’s participation in next month’s Games, which the South sees as a way to calm tensions caused by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that the orchestra will perform in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and in the city of Gangneung, where some of the competitions will be held.

Separately, South Korean Sports Ministry spokesman Hwang Seong Un said that the two Koreas have agreed in principle to field a joint women’s ice hockey team. The proposal requires International Olympic Committee approval. If realized, it would be the Koreas’ first unified Olympic team ever.

Officials from both Koreas are to meet with the International Olympic Committee at its headquarters in Switzerland on Saturday. The two sides agreed Monday to meet again at their border on Wednesday for working-level talks ahead of the IOC meeting.

Related: North Korea to join Olympics in South Korea as tensions ease

North Korea last week agreed to send an Olympic delegation and hold military talks aimed at reducing frontline animosities in its first formal talks with South Korea in about two years. The North has said its delegation to the Feb. 9-25 Games in Pyeongchang would include an art troupe along with officials, athletes, cheerleaders, journalists and a taekwondo demonstration team.

The reasons for North Korea’s softer approach are not clear, though some analysts say the North may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington as a way to weaken pressure and sanctions on the country. North Korea carried out nuclear and missile tests last year that triggered harsher U.N. sanctions and worldwide condemnation.

Others speculate the North wants to use the Olympics to show it’s a normal country despite possessing nuclear weapons.

North Korea has insisted its talks with South Korea won’t deal with its nuclear and missile programs, saying those weapons primarily target the United States. Critics question how long the warmer mood can last without any serious discussion on the North’s nuclear disarmament.

The North issued a veiled threat Sunday that it could cancel its plans to send an Olympic delegation to protest what it called South Korea’s “sordid acts” that chilled the prospect for inter-Korean reconciliation.

Related: South Korea offers talks with North on Olympic co-operation

“They should know that (the) train and bus carrying our delegation to the Olympics are still in Pyongyang,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. “The South Korean authorities had better ponder over what unfavourable results may be entailed by their impolite behaviour.”

KCNA criticized remarks by South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week that credited President Donald Trump for getting the North to sit down with the South. It also accused Seoul of letting Washington deploy strategic assets like an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula on the occasion of the Olympics. The United States is beefing up its presence around the peninsula in what it describes as routine training and scheduled upgrades.

The warning is relatively milder than the North’s typical fiery, bellicose rhetoric and it didn’t appear to put the recent signs of warming Korean ties in imminent danger.

A joint statement after Monday’s meeting didn’t mention North Korea’s well-known Moranbong Band, an all-female ensemble hand-picked by the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

One of the North Korean delegates to the talks was Hyon Song Wol, the head of the band, fueling speculation that North Korea might send the band.

Since its first stage debut in 2012, the band is hugely popular at home and has been dubbed by outsiders as “North Korea’s only girl group” for its Western-style performances featuring women in mini-skirts and high heels dancing and singing odes to Kim.

Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Most Read