North and South Korea agree to compete, march together at Olympics

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On Wednesday South Korea's Unification Ministry announced that the two rival countries have reached an agreement to march together under the Korean Unification Flag at the opening ceremonies.

North Korean athletes will compete in pair figure skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and women's ice hockey, Lee Hee-beom, the head of the organizing committee for this year's Olympics, revealed Thursday, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) have been in a tense back-and-forth. That's rare, but not unprecedented.

This is the first combined Korean team for the Olympics, and the first unified team since their athletes played together for an global table-tennis championship and a youth soccer tournament in 1991.

Before the start of the Games, the two countries will hold a joint cultural event at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea, the statement said.

North Korea is planning to send a large delegation to the Olympics in addition to the athletes and performance group.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who took office in May a year ago, offered in June to form a unified team with the DPRK for the Winter Olympics.

"Basically, the IOC is the one that invites countries to the Olympics", Lee told reporters at Incheon International Airport before heading to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The team, interestingly, will include one American - Marissa Brandt, who was adopted by a Minnesota family from South Korea. They also agreed that supporters can cheer for both the North and the South. Further, North and South Korea will form their first joint Olympic team (that is, a woman's hockey team).

Last week, during the first face-to-face talks with Seoul since 2015, North Korea pledged to send a delegation of athletes and high-level officials to Pyeongchang for the Games which take place from February 9 to 25. This was followed by a number of sporting events intermittently since then, with the latest being the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

"There are many considerations with regard to the impact of these proposals on the other participating NOCs (national Olympic committees) and athletes", it said.

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