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Ministry says it appears hard to send cheering squad for World Cup match in Pyongyang

All News 11:04 October 07, 2019

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry said Monday it appears to be difficult to send a cheering squad for an inter-Korean World Cup qualifier to be held in Pyongyang next week as the North has not responded to an offer for talks on the matter.

North Korea is to host the match between the two Koreas in Pyongyang on Oct. 15. South Korea has been sounding North Korea out about Seoul's push to send a cheering squad in an effort to use the sports event to move the stalled reconciliation process forward.

"Though we have sounded the North side out (about the matter), there has been little progress," Lee Sang-min, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

"With the match just around a week away, I can say that it appears to be not easy (to send a cheering squad to North Korea) from a physical perspective," he added.

Any South Koreans seeking to visit North Korea should receive invitations from the North and also the Seoul government's approval on their trips to the communist state.

It is rare for North Korea to host South Korea for such high-profile sports events. It is also unprecedented for South Korea to send a cheering squad to a World Cup qualifier held in Pyongyang.

Observers have said that the upcoming match in Pyongyang could serve as a major chance to bolster contact between the two Koreas at a time when cross-border exchanges have been mostly stalled in recent months amid a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.

Kim Kum-chol (2nd from R) of North Korea dribbles the ball during a Group H Asian qualifier against Lebanon for the 2022 football World Cup at Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang on Sept. 5, 2019, in this file photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. According to the Seoul-based Korea Football Association (KFA), the Asian Football Confederation has informed the KFA that North Korea will host South Korea on Oct. 15, as scheduled, for their Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the World Cup. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)


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