Gangneung offers hanok village to North Korean visitorsThe Gangneung city government on Thursday offered to provide lodging for North Korea’s cheerleading squad and cultural performance troupe for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Gangneung Mayor Choi Myeong-hee held a press conference to make the proposal following breakthrough inter-Korean talks earlier this week in which Pyongyang agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Games, and said he “welcomes the confirmation of North Korea’s participation in the Olympics.”
He added that the city “stands ready to provide lodging for the North Korean participating delegation,” proposing to use a hanok (traditional Korean house) village run by the city.
The coastal city of Gangneung in Gangwon is one of the locations of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with the counties of Pyeongchang and Jeongseon also located in the northeastern province near the border with North Korea.
Choi offered Gangneung Ojuk Hanok Village as lodging for the cheerleaders and performers in the North Korean delegation. The village has 49 guest rooms, with a maximum capacity of 300 people.
In the meeting Tuesday led by South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon and his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, Pyongyang proposed to send a delegation to the Olympics composed of athletes, cheerleaders, journalists, high-level government officials and taekwondo performers.
“By providing hanok, a tradition which has been shared by the Korean people, we hope that the North Korean delegation will be presented with a sense of closeness, warmth and affection, and they will be able use the entire hanok village to enable security,” said Choi. “It also has the advantage of being located a short distance from the competition facilities and the athletes’ village.”
Choi also offered the North Korean performance troupe the use of the recently opened Gangneung Art Center, which has a multi-purpose hall with a capacity of 1,000 seats, and other nearby performance facilities.
“The city will try to provide our utmost support to the North Korean delegation so that there are no inconveniences,” the mayor added.
An athletes’ village in the city, called the Gangneung Olympic Village, was completed earlier this year, and will accommodate those competing in ice events.
The city is home to the Gangneung Ice Arena and the Gangneung Hockey Centre.
The Winter Olympics run from Feb. 9 to 25 and the Paralympic Games are scheduled for March 9 to 18.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]