North Korea Moranbong woman band chief heads Olympic inspection staff

South Korea

South Korea

Hyon's Moranbong Band will not visit South Korea during the games, but she will head a little-known 140-member art troupe that is to perform twice.

There has been skepticism about Kim Jong Un's offer.

In Gangneung, the North Koreans will likely tour the Gangneung Arts Center and visit another candidate site in Seoul on Monday.

The Moranbong band members, a mix of vocalists and musicians, are all former military officers and often wear military costumes whilst singing patriotic songs about the North Korean state and in particular the supreme leader.

Clad in a long, dark coat matched with a stylish fox fur scarf, Hyon, who is rumored to be an ex-girlfriend of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, remained low-profile while touring the auditorium, refraining from responding to journalists' frequent questions.

The skier had hoped to qualify in less controversial circumstances for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, but sustained a shoulder injury in a skiing crash earlier this month. This would not be the first time South Korea competes under the "COR" country code.

The primary mission of the security agents will be to watch the words and actions of the participants to discourage them from saying anything disparaging about the North Korean system. Another station analyzed her choice of coffee. The reasons for this about-turn are still not clear, but it is an initial step towards de-escalation of tension.

In Gangneung, as she had been in Seoul, Hyun appeared cool and composed.

A dozen South Korean officials are scheduled to make a three-day visit starting Tuesday to the Kumgangsan area and Masikryong Ski Resort in the North's east.

But she doubts this will change North Korea's nuclear posture. "During the joint entrance at the opening ceremony, the athletes will have Korean Peninsula flags on their chests and "Korea" written on the back of their uniforms", explained Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan at a press conference soon after his arrival at Incheon Airport on January 21.

Its coverage of the cultural advance team's visit struck a warm tone, highlighting the local hype over Hyon Song-wol.

Interested in North Korea?

The right-leaning paper said there is "criticism that if the South continues to be dragged along by the North in this manner, this could negatively impact denuclearization talks in the future".

Hyon's image has been plastered across the front pages of many South Korean newspapers and magazines, while TV stations have provided near wall-to-wall coverage. "There are more articles about Hyun then there were about Donald Trump when he was here", wrote one commenter, while another said, "Is the media going to cover Hyun all day?"

"Isn't it amusing that the same country is now asking athletes to cut back on their playing time and embrace changes that would make them less likely to win?" The resumption of inter-Korean talks is crucial for the policies of Moon, who wants Seoul in the driver's seat in worldwide efforts to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat.

The Olympics kick off on February 9, with 22 North Korean athletes and a performing arts troupe slated to attend the Winter Games in PyeongChang.

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