The Korea Herald


Seoul City provides W1b for inter-Korean Olympic events

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Feb. 11, 2018 - 16:50

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As the two Koreas have agreed to hold an array of joint events for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Seoul city government has provided a total of 1.2 billion won ($1.1 million) to finance such projects. 

North Korea`s Samjiyon art troupe performs the Gangneung Arts Center in Gangneung on Thursday. (Yonhap) North Korea`s Samjiyon art troupe performs the Gangneung Arts Center in Gangneung on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The cost will be covered with the city’s inter-Korean cooperation fund, which was established in 2004, under the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration, said the city government on Sunday.

The divided Koreas agreed to cooperate for the Feb. 9-25 Olympics after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un waved an olive branch to the South in his New Year’s address. The North agreed to send its athletes, a high-level delegation, an art troupe, cheerleaders, and taekwondo performers to the Winter Games.

Seoul city government’s latest decision marks the largest spending of the fund since 2009 after it proposed food aid to North Korea worth 1 billion won. The fund had since remained largely dormant for nearly a decade, as North Korea’s military provocations and nuclear weapons program heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Out of the total amount, 600 million won has been already spent to support the North’s 140-member Samjiyon art troupe’s performance at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul on Sunday. Sunday’s performance was the Samjiyon troupe’s second and final performance in South Korea before heading back to the North through a western land route.

The fund will also chip in 56 million won for the joint taekwondo performance at Seoul City Hall on Monday. The athletes will hold another demonstration at local television network MBC’s headquarters in western Seoul before returning.

A special culture exhibition in PyeongChang, showcasing jointly-recovered artifacts of the Koryo Kingdom (918-1392) was also a benefactor of the fund, receiving 500 million won.

The city government’s inter-Korean fund was initially established as a disaster relief grant for a train explosion at Ryongchon station, located in the North’s North Pyongan Province, in 2004. A total of 20 billion won was allocated for the fund.

There is a separate state inter-Korean cooperation fund, managed by Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which was also used to support North Korea’s recent participation in the Winter Games.

By Jung Min-kyung (