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(Olympics) Two N.K. taekwondo athletes part of North's women's hockey staff

All Headlines 18:43 February 06, 2018

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- Two members of North Korea's taekwondo squad that will perform in the South during the Winter Olympics were found to have made their way across the border earlier than initially expected, as supporting members of the country's women's hockey team, officials said Tuesday.

The Unification Ministry announced that a 280-member North Korean delegation, including cheerleaders and taekwondo demonstrators, will travel to South Korea on Wednesday ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The ministry said the taekwondo squad will be comprised of 26 practitioners, leaving the press and observers scratching their heads, since it was announced earlier that the team would have 28 athletes. It was revealed that the missing two were already in the South.

According to the ministry, Kim Seung-chul and Kim Young-chul of the North Korean women's hockey squad were members of the International Taekwon-Do Federation delegation.

The North's women's hockey players traveled across the border in late January to form a joint team with South Korean players for the Olympics.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that "two mystery men" traveled with the North's women's hockey team without former Olympic accreditation. The paper quoted South Korean government officials as saying that the two were here for technical support, such as massage and video analysis for the athletes.

The ministry confirmed that the two were affiliated with the Choson Taekwondo Committee, the taekwondo-governing body in the North. The two are expected to leave the women's hockey squad and join the taekwondo demonstration team.

The two Koreas will hold a total of four joint taekwondo demonstrations in the South, to celebrate the first Winter Olympics in South Korea, starting on Feb. 9 at the pre-ceremony performances before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.

In this file photo, taken June 24, 2017, taekwondo demonstrators from North Korea break bricks during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo (WT) World Taekwondo Championships at T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province. (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr
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