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Koreas would march behind 'Korean Unification' flag in joint Olympic entrance: minister

All Headlines 17:39 January 15, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- Athletes of the two Koreas would march together behind the "Korean Unification" flag at the opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the case the two sides agree on a joint entrance, Seoul's sports minister said Monday.

"The discussion is still ongoing, but the Korean Unification flag will be raised at the opening when a joint entrance is agreed upon," Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan said during a meeting with lawmakers at the National Assembly, referring to the white flag with the Korean Peninsula colored in blue in the center.

Do was responding to remarks by Rep. Lee Chul-gyu of the opposition Liberty Korean Party, who insisted that South Korean Olympic athletes should hoist their country's national flag, "Taegeukki," during the entrance event even in the case of joint entrance.

"One can ask why we won't bear the Taegeukki as the host nation. But (the two Koreas) made joint entrances behind the Korean Unification flag at the Busan Asian Games and the Summer Universiade in Daegu, and we were also hosts back then," the minister explained.

Do added, "We've made about nine joint entrances in the past, and peace on the Korean Peninsula through sport is the what the Olympic strives for."

The minister said the Korean Unification flag can be used in the opening ceremony and other universal Olympic events. During competitions, the Taegeukki will be hoisted to represent South Korea.

The IOC will convene a meeting with officials from the two Koreas in Lausanne, Switzerland, this week to discuss details of the North's participation.

The reconciliatory moves came as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare offer of rapprochement toward Seoul in his New Year's Day message following the North's nuclear and missile tests. Seoul said that it agreed to provide necessary support for the North's delegation.

South Korea also proposed assembling a joint women's hockey team with North Korea at the Olympics. The IOC is reviewing the idea.

"There will not be any case in which our (South Korean players) are excluded," Do explained. "We are negotiating under the condition of taking over full supervisory authority (of the team)," the minister added.

Vice Sports Minister Roh Tae-kang said last week that the government is taking steps to ensure the joint team won't come at the expense of South Korean players and that it has asked the IOC and the International Ice Hockey Federation to expand the Olympic roster from 23 to 35.

Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan on Jan. 15, 2017, briefs lawmakers at the National Assembly in Seoul on the preparations of next month's PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)


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