IOC: More initiatives coming to promote Korean unity

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North Korea will send 22 athleteswho will compete in three sports, Bach said, following a meeting between delegations from the two Koreas and Olympic officials in Lausanne, Switzerland.Athletes from the North and South will also march together under one flag at the opening ceremony for the Games in Pyeongchang, which begin February 9, Bach said.

The South Korean presidential office said that an important stepping stone to a peace Olympics has been laid, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on details of North Korea's Olympic participation on Saturday.

While South Korea hopes to use the games to improve relations with its rival after a year of animosity over North Korea's rapidly expanding nuclear program, some experts view Kim's overture as an attempt to weaken us -led global sanctions against the North and buy time to further advance his nuclear weapons program.

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The deal over the unified women's ice hockey team sparked fury in the South, where critics accused Seoul of robbing some of its own players of the opportunity to compete at the Olympics for the sake of politics. South Korean officials have wanted to ensure that Ms. Hyon's artists keep political propaganda out of their performances in the South.

Two extra places in short-track speed skating are being given to North Korea, allowing Jong Kwang-Bom to compete at 1500m and Choe Un-Song to take part in the 500m.

Bach said the agreement seemed "impossible only a few weeks ago", and praised the two governments for coming together.

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The two Koreas will exchange visits of working-level officials later this week to continue consultations on issues related to the North's participation in the Olympics and the ensuing Paralympics.

Hyon, who is also an alternate member of the ruling party's Central Committee, is travelling with six other North Koreans. The team is expected to stay overnight at Gangneung before returning to Seoul to check another venue in the capital on Monday, according to Yonhap news agency.

North Korea sent a statement on Saturday saying it would send the delegation by a land route on Sunday, and the schedule during the visit could be carried out as previously agreed, the Unification Ministry said in a statement.

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A North Korean soldier looks south through a pair of binoculars. There's a rumor that she is an ex-girlfriend of Kim. An attempt by the group to perform any propaganda piece would trigger protests from conservatives in South Korea.

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