SEOUL, South Korea (AP) North Korea threatened Friday to review its decision to enter the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea, a day after their talks on the games broke down.
The North’s plan to send athletes and cheerleaders to the games is among a set of measures it recently proposed to ease tension between the rivals. Many in South Korea doubt how sincere the North is about its overtures as the country has been conducting an unusually large number of missile and rocket test-launches in recent weeks.
The two Koreas met at a border village Thursday for talks on the North’s games participation but the meeting ended with no agreement, including on when to meet again.
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Pyongyang’s state new agency on Friday blamed South Korea for the meeting’s breakdown, accusing the South of taking issue with the number of athletes the North plans to send citing safety concerns. The official Korean Central News Agency said South Korea objected to the use of North Korean national flags that are too big.
The news agency said the North Korean delegate told their counterparts that the South Korean objections were aimed at stopping the North from attending the games, and that it will now re-examine its participation if Seoul maintains such a stance.
South Korea denied the North’s accusations. South Korean delegates tried only to find out details about the North Korean athletic squad and raised worries that big flags could cause a safety issue for North Korean cheerleaders, according to South Korean officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media on the issue.
The officials said that North Korea told the South Korean delegates that they wanted to send 350 athletes and 350 cheerleaders to the games scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in the city of Incheon.
The two Koreas remain divided along a heavily fortified border since the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both in Seoul, but attended the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and two other major sports events in the South in 2003 and 2005.