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N. Korean taekwondo athletes in U.S.

All Headlines 04:54 June 10, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON, June 9 (Yonhap) -- A group of North Korean taekwondo athletes arrived in the United States Thursday for a rare performance tour abroad.

The 17-member team, which left Pyongyang on Saturday, arrived in San Francisco via Beijing. Leaving the San Francisco airport, they refused to answer reporters' questions.

It is the second time that North Korean taekwondo athletes have visited the U.S., following a previous trip in 2007.

The athletes are scheduled to perform in Boston, New York and Philadelphia this weekend through next week, according to the U.S. organization that arranged the visit.

Earlier in the day, a State Department official confirmed that Washington had issued visas for them.

"Visas were issued to a group of North Korean taekwondo athletes," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

But the official stressed that they are traveling "in a private capacity."

Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art. It has gained international popularity and is an Olympic sport. It is also often performed as a cultural activity.

lcd@yna.co.kr
leechidong@gmail.com
(END)

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