Koreas begin basketball friendlies in latest peace gesture

Elias Hubbard
July 6, 2018

The men's game ended in a tie, 102-102.

Players of Team Peace and Team Prosperity enter the stadium during an inter-Korean women's basketball match in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Cho's visit will overlap with a trip to Pyongyang by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is tasked with fleshing out details for the denuclearisation deal between Kim and Trump. It wasn't clear whether he would attend on Thursday.

They were matches between teams made up of a mixture of North and South Korean players.

"I am proud that sport has stood at the forefront of opening this great path to reconciliation, peace and prosperity between North and South Korea", North Korean Vice-Minister of Sports Won Kil U told the South Koreans on arrival on Tuesday.

Kim had suggested the friendlies to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April when the two held their first summit at the border village of Panmunjom straddling the two Koreas.

The two Koreas on Wednesday (Jul 4) held a friendly basketball match in Pyongyang in the latest effort at sports diplomacy between the neighbours. Hur, a former guard whose two sons are among the players who travelled to the North, talked about his friendship with retired North Korean player Ri Myong Hun, a 2.35-metre centre who anchored the country's national team during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The official Korean Central News Agency today published an article in memory of the signing of the July 4 South-North Joint Communiqué in 1972.

The exchanges are the latest result of a diplomatic outreach to the South that Kim announced during his annual New Year's speech.

Relations between the two Koreas have been warming since North Korea sent athletes and a high-ranking delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February following a year of tension and bellicose rhetoric from both sides over North Korea's weapons programs.

Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to work toward the eventual withdrawal of US troops from South Korea during their third summit in China, according to a Japanese press report. They have agreed to march together under a unified peninsula flag at the August 18 Asian Games ceremony in Indonesia and field combined teams in some events. The document was the first to be signed by Communist-backed North Korea and Western-backed South Korea since they were split by the Soviet Union and the USA after World War II and went to war in the early 1950s.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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