North and South Korea are engaged in a flurry of cross-border visits ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in the South, as the bitter rivals press ahead with an agreement for the North to take part in the games.
A delegation from South Korea traveled to the North Tuesday for a three-day visit to look over potential venues for joint events linked to the Pyeongchang Games, the first such official visit in two years. The trip comes one day after a North Korean delegation, led by the leader of the North's popular Moranbong girl band, departed Seoul after a two-day visit to inspect venues for artistic performances during the Games.
Under the agreement reached between Seoul and Pyongyang, the two nations will march together under a single flag during the February 9 opening ceremonies, and field a combined women's hockey team to compete during the Games. In addition to the performances by North Korean artistic troupes during the Games, the two sides will hold a joint cultural event at North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort, and their skiers will take part in a joint practice session at a North Korean ski resort.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's surprise offer during a New Year's Day speech to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Games was enthusiastically welcomed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has sought better ties with the belligerent North. The recent exchanges broke a long freeze in inter-Korean relations, escalated by North Korea's development of its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs in defiance of international sanctions.
But a group of right-wing South Koreans staged an angry protest in Seoul Monday, burning a photo of Kim Jong Un and a North Korean flag. Pyongyang issued a statement denouncing the protesters as "traitors and psychopaths" who "defamed the dignity of the supreme leadership."
A spokesman for President Moon Tuesday called on South Koreans to welcome all nations who are taking part in the Pyeongchang Games.
Another North Korean delegation will visit Seoul on Thursday to inspect Olympic venues and accommodations for their representatives.