Korea slams South for praising U.S. role in inter-Korean talks

South Koreans getting ready for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang.                  JUNG Yeon Je  AFP

The two sides will meet at the shared border village of Panmunjom, Seoul officials said, mainly to discuss whether to hold a joint march by their athletes at the opening ceremony and field a joint women's hockey team at the February 9-25 Olympics in the South.

South Korea first suggested the 3-on-3 working-level talks on January 12, proposing that the two sides comprehensively work out details on the makeup of the North Korean group, the schedule, and other items.

Tension has been high as the North staged a flurry of nuclear and missile tests since a year ago and Mr Kim traded threats of war and personal attacks with US President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, after the high-level talks, North Korea agreed to send their own delegation, athletes, cheerleaders, an art troupe and taekwondo demonstration teams. The joint press statement also said that South Korea would "do its best to guarantee the safety and convenience of the North Korean band".

Concerns have previously been raised about the impact a joint team would have on the host nation's players but Sports Ministry officials have insisted the presence of North Koreans in the squad would not come at the expense of those from South Korea.

North Korea's participation in PyeongChang could contribute to easing tension on the Korean peninsula, after the year 2017 was marked by the North's persistent weapons tests and Trump's belligerent verbal responses to the regime.

The North's orchestra, called the Samjiyon Band, is the country's main art troupe along with the Moranbong Band, women who regularly stage musical performances and plays calling for loyalty to the leader, Kim Jong Un. The U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii handles American troop deployments to the Korean Peninsula in times of crisis.

"They should know that train and bus carrying our delegation to the Olympics are still in Pyongyang", KCNA wrote.

North Korea is pursuing its missile and nuclear programmes in defiance of UN Security Council and other sanctions and regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its two key Asian allies, South Korea and Japan.

"The present South Korean chief executive's attitude casts doubt as to his intent to improve the North-South ties and build confidence", it said.

Hundreds of North Korean athletes, officials and supporters have attended major sporting events in the South, according to Yonhap. But each performer holds an official senior military position - Hyon Song Wol is reportedly a colonel in the Korean People's Army of the North.

In a press conference, Moon had indicated that the U.S. sanctions imposed by Trump prompted Pyongyang to go back to the negotiating table - something the North called "rubbish".

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