|President Moon Jae-in speaks with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at Cheong Wa Dae, Monday. Moon said he hoped North Korea would participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, and asked for the IOC's support. / Yonhap|
President, IOC chief meet on PyeongChang Winter Games
By Jun Ji-hye
President Moon Jae-in expressed his wish for North Korea's participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics during his meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Monday.
Moon said the North's participation will contribute to enhancing the Olympic spirit and fostering peace in the Northeast Asian region and the world as well as "creating harmony for mankind."
The President also said he will ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to work together for Pyongyang's participation during their meeting.
Moon and Xi are expected to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G20 Summit scheduled for July 7 and 8 in Germany.
"I understand that North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics is contingent on the IOC's decision," Moon told Bach, according to presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun.
Moon noted that the nation has secured support from the United States to lead in seeking peace between the two Koreas and the resolution of humanitarian issues through dialogue. Moon got this backing during his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Friday.
"This enables us to enhance cooperation with North Korea in the field of sports," Moon said.
Bach, in response, said he supports Moon's policy for inter-Korean reconciliation and peace on the peninsula, stressing that such a policy also accords with the Olympic spirit, according to Park.
The IOC president recalled when he met with late President Kim Dae-jung in 1998 during which time Kim expressed the wish for the North's participation in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
As result of successful persuasion to bring the North into the Olympics at the time, the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony, held just months after the first inter-Korean summit between two former leaders — the late Kim and former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
President Moon said, "As the IOC vowed to open the door for the North's participation, I ask the PyeongChang Winter Olympics Organizing Committee and Gangwon Province to make all efforts for that as well."
Moon stressed that Pyongyang's participation itself will help in holding the Olympics successfully.
During an opening ceremony for the World Taekwondo Championships, June 25, Moon also proposed South and North Koreas create a unified team for the Winter Olympics.
This has raised hope for the joint team in the Olympics, or at least a joint march at the opening ceremony.
Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon told reporters, June 28, "I wish that the two Koreas will create a joint team, cheer together and have a joint parade."
But spokesman Park said such issues can be discussed only after the North's participation is confirmed.
Meanwhile, Moon is considering visiting PyeongChang after the G20 Summit as part of government efforts to help the city host the international event successfully, Park added.
The Koreas have fielded joint teams in two international competitions — the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships and the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship.
However, they never fielded joint team at an Olympics.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will run during Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang in Gangwon Province, and nearby sub-host cities Gangneung and Jeongseon.