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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All Headlines 16:00 November 30, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

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N. Korean soprano plans to visit Jeju for joint concert with S. Korean violinist: source

SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean soprano plans to visit the southern resort island of Jeju next month for a joint concert with a South Korean violinist as part of a project to promote reconciliation between the two sides, a source familiar with the matter said Sunday.

The North's singer, Kim Song-mi, agreed to hold the concert with South Korean violinist Won Hyung-joon, chief artistic director of the Seoul-based Lindenbaum Music, at the Jeju Arts Center on Dec. 30, according to the source.

The agreement was reached in Beijing early this month between the Chosun Arts Exchange Association, a body under the North's culture ministry, and Lindenbaum Music, the source said on condition of anonymity.

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Pyongyang slams Seoul over U.N. human rights resolution

SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean propaganda website lambasted South Korea on Sunday for the latter's participation in adopting a new U.N. human rights resolution against its regime, saying that it runs counter to the improvement of inter-Korean relations.

On Nov. 15, a United Nations committee adopted a resolution calling for accountability for gross human rights violations in North Korea.

The U.N. Third Committee, which oversees humanitarian issues, passed the document by consensus without a vote. It is expected to pass the U.N. General Assembly next month for the 14th consecutive year.

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(LEAD) Two Koreas jointly list traditional wrestling as UNESCO heritage

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- "Ssireum," traditional Korean wrestling dating to the Three Kingdoms period (A.D. 220–280), was inscribed Monday as an intangible cultural asset by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said.

The decision was made during the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, currently taking place in Port Louis, Mauritius.

This is the first joint inscription by South and North Korea of an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. The sport's English spelling is ssireum in the South and "ssirum" in the North.

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S. Korean aid group to visit N. Korea this week

SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has allowed a major aid group to visit North Korea this week to discuss ways to expand humanitarian aid to the impoverished country, the organization said Tuesday.

The unification ministry gave the green light to the Seoul-based Korean Sharing Movement for 14 of its officials to visit North Korea for four days starting Wednesday, it said.

They plan to meet with North Korean officials to discuss future projects that could take off if international sanctions on the communist nation are relaxed.

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Koreas agree to begin joint railway inspection Friday

SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea agreed Wednesday to launch an 18-day inspection of two railways running through the eastern and western parts of the North later this week as part of efforts to modernize and reconnect cross-border rail lines.

In the survey set to kick off Friday, railway officials of the two sides will ride a train together and inspect a total of 1,200 kilometers of rail track -- 400 km on the western Gyeongui Line and 800 km on the eastern Donghae Line, the unification ministry said.

This is part of a summit agreement between the leaders of the two Koreas in April to modernize and eventually reconnect rail systems across their border, a project aimed at fostering reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

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S. Korea provides pesticides to N. Korea to combat pine tree diseases

SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea sent about 50 tons of pesticides to North Korea on Thursday to help it combat the spread of pine tree diseases, the unification ministry said.

Trucks carrying the chemicals crossed into the North via the western land route at around 8:30 a.m., according to the ministry. They will be unloaded in the North's border town of Kaesong.

Fifteen South Korean officials and forestry experts visited the North for the delivery, the ministry said.

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S. Korea pushes to hold groundbreaking ceremony for railway, road connections this year: official

SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is sticking to the plan to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for inter-Korean railway and road connection projects this year as the Koreas are to begin a joint inspection of the rail system in North Korea this week, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

After a monthslong delay, South and North Korea are set to launch an 18-day joint inspection of the western and eastern railways of the North on Friday. A South Korean train will leave for the North early in the day with dozens of officials and railway experts on board.

This is part of the two Koreas' plan to modernize and reconnect their railways and roads as agreed upon by their leaders in April.

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S. Korean train travels to N. Korea for joint railway inspection

SEOUL/DORASAN, Nov. 30 (Yonhap-Joint Press Corps) -- A South Korean train departed for North Korea on Friday for an 18-day joint railway inspection that the Koreas are conducting as part of efforts to modernize, and eventually reconnect, rail lines across their border.

The train, made up of six cars and carrying dozens of South Korean officials and experts, left Dorasan Station, just south of the inter-Korean border, around 9:05 a.m. for Panmun Station, near the North's border city of Kaesong.

The train will be used to inspect 1,200 kilometers of rail track in the North through Dec. 17.

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S. Korea provides North with materials for military communication line

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has provided North Korea with materials needed to stably manage a military communication line on the west coast, Seoul's defense ministry said Friday.

On Thursday, the ministry delivered optical and copper cable transmission equipment and communication conduits. They are among the items for which Seoul has secured exceptions from U.N. Security Council sanctions.

"This measure will help the defense authorities of the Koreas devise military measures to activate bilateral exchanges and contact by stably managing the western military communication line," the ministry said in a press release.

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Koreas to complete work to remove some guard posts, land mines in DMZ

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea will complete demolishing 10 front-line guard posts each and demining a ridge in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Friday, Seoul's defense ministry said.

They began the work in October as part of a military accord to reduce tensions and build trust, which their defense chiefs signed in September after the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.

"The work to completely destroy the guard posts subject to the withdrawal agreement will be completed today," a ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "Next month, the verification work will proceed."

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(LEAD) S. Korea seeking N.K. leader's visit with 'all possibilities open'

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential office said Friday that it still leaves "all possibilities open" regarding North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's planned visit to Seoul, in response to a news report that Seoul was trying to arrange his trip in mid-December.

A local media report said that Cheong Wa Dae was preparing for Kim's trip, hoping that it could take place around Dec. 13-14, but the North has asked for a delay, citing security concerns.

The government will likely push for a mid-December trip again and bring up the issue when President Moon Jae-in holds a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina on Saturday, it said.

"We are discussing (the issue) with all possibilities open. Nothing has been decided," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a text message to reporters.
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