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(2nd LD) N.K. delegation head hails planned inter-Korean football match

All News 16:08 August 10, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead and paras 2-3, 5-7 with updates from press conference; TRIMS; RESTRUCTURES)

PAJU/SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- The head of a North Korean delegation for a planned inter-Korean workers' football match hailed the occasion as a chance to rev up the momentum for peaceful cross-border relations between the two Koreas.

"The workers' football match will serve as an opportunity where workers from the two Koreas can reaffirm the spirit and will in their commitment toward the Panmunjom Declaration and give a boost to unification efforts," Ju Yong-gil, head of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea, told a press conference in Seoul.

The 64-member delegation, led by Ju, crossed the border into South Korea earlier in the day to take part in the inter-Korean workers' football match on Saturday.

The rare football match marks the first inter-Korean private exchange event since President Moon Jae-in held his first historic summit on April 27 with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Panmunjom.

They were joined at the media session by Kim Myoung-hwan and Kim Ju-young, heads of South Korea's two major umbrella labor groups -- the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), respectively.

The two Kims each made brief remarks in return, thanking the delegation for their participation and highlighting the importance of the occasion as a bridge to more cross-border exchanges going forward.

They are set to meet again at a welcoming banquet later in the evening, at which Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon will deliver a congratulatory speech.

The football match is due to kick off at Seoul's Sangam World Cup Stadium at 4 p.m., with about 30,000 citizens and laborers from both the South and the North to be present.

The football match will be the fourth of its kind, following ones in Pyongyang in 1999, the southern South Korean city of Changwon in 2007 and Pyongyang in 2015.

As part of their final itineraries on Sunday, the North Koreans will visit the tomb of Jeon Tae-il, a South Korean garment worker who burned himself to death in protest for better pay and working conditions in 1970, in Maseok, Gyeonggi Province.

The North Korean delegation for an inter-Korean workers' football match wave unified Korean flags as they arrive in Paju, just south of the border in the South, on Aug. 10, 2018, for a three-day visit as part of the first private-level exchange between the two Koreas since the April summit of the two leaders of the states. (Yonhap)


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