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N. Korea allows S. Korean flag hoisting, anthem for first time

All Headlines 15:10 September 06, 2013

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has approved for the first time the hoisting of South Korea's national flag and playing of its anthem on the communist country's soil, the unification ministry said Friday.

The move comes as the North invited South Korean weightlifters to attend the 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship to be held in the communist country, the Ministry of Unification said.

If realized, it will be the first time in history that South Korea's national flag, the Taegeukgi will be raised and the national anthem performed in North Korea.

The ministry in charge of all inter-Korean relations said it approved the cross-border trip by the 41-member team made up of South Korean weightlifters and officials who plans to visit Pyongyang next week for a nine-day stay to attend the international sporting competition. The event is set from Sept. 11-17 in the North Korean capital.

Officials here said approval was given because the event is an international gathering organized by the Asia Weightlifting Federation, and Pyongyang vowed to guarantee the safety of the athletes from the South.

Such reconciliatory gestures from both sides are in line with a recent series of signs of thawing relations following a deal to restart the shuttered joint industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong and to arrange reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korean athletes last competed on North Korean soil in 2003, during an inter-Korean basketball and football event.

In July this year, the North Korean women's national football team visited South Korea to compete in the East Asian Cup tournament, its first trip here since 2005. North Korea ended up winning the four-nation event over South Korea, Japan and China.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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