North Korean athletes give back gifts given them in Gangwon

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North Korean athletes give back gifts given them in Gangwon


Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon, left, poses with Mun Yong-song, right, general manager of the North Korean women’s ice hockey team, on April 8, after delivering 30 sets of stuffed dolls of Soohorang and Bandabi, the mascots of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. [YONHAP]

North Korean athletes participating in an international competition in the South left behind most — but not all — of the gifts they were given by their hosts when they left for home.

They kept some stuffed animals.

North Korea’s national team participated in the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women's World Championship, Division II Group A, in Gangneung, Gangwon, earlier this month. They arrived on April 1 and returned home last Sunday.

Before their departure, the 30-member team returned the gifts they received from the city and the province, an official of the Gangwon Provincial Government told the JoongAng Ilbo Tuesday.

The city of Gangneung gave 30 key chains as welcome gifts to the team on April 1. The key chains, which cost about 3,000 won ($2.62) each, were made of pine. They were hand-made exclusively for the event. Only 2,000 were made by city residents, and they are not for sale.

Some 1,700 key chains were given to athletes and officials from the participating countries, including Germany, Canada and China. The North’s delegation was the only one to return them.

The provincial government of Gangwon also gave red ginseng products to the North Korean team’s general manager, Mun Yong-song, and its coach on Saturday. The province had prepared 28 more boxes for the rest of the delegation, but they refused to accept them. The red ginseng cost 48,000 won per box.

The athletes, however, took stuffed dolls of Soohorang and Bandabi, the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon delivered 30 sets of the dolls to the team on Saturday and asked them to participate in the upcoming Olympics.

“The North Korean athletes probably took the Olympic mascot dolls because of their symbolism,” said a provincial official. “They probably felt scared to take the other gifts.”

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