Blue House asks public to welcome all to Games

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Blue House asks public to welcome all to Games

South Korea’s presidential office urged the public Tuesday to welcome all participating countries in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, including North Korea, calling it a rare chance to ease tension between the divided Koreas and also restart denuclearization dialogue.

The call came amid growing antipathy among conservatives toward North Korea’s participation in the games after heightened tensions over its nuclear and missile tests last year.

“The Moon Jae-in government’s efforts to overcome the crisis on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue led to North Korea’s participation in the Olympics. We are confident the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games will go beyond establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula to become priming water for global peace,” Blue House spokesman Park Soo-hyun said in a press conference.

The remarks came one day after a group of conservative activists staged a protest rally at Seoul Station as a visiting North Korean delegation arrived there following its overnight visit to Gangneung, 230 kilometers (143 miles) east of Seoul, to inspect possible venues for a musical performance before or during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

The activists claimed the Feb. 9-25 Olympic Games were turning into a North Korean event that would help it gain global recognition as a nuclear power. They also burned a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a North Korean national flag.

Pyongyang reacted with fury, calling them “unpardonable atrocities.”

“If these traitors and psychopaths defaming the dignified Korean nation are allowed to go scot-free, the national reconciliation, unity and the building of a reunified powerful country will be delayed so much,” the North’s Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

The Blue House spokesman dismissed the conservatives’ claim that the PyeongChang event was rather becoming the Pyongyang Olympic Games.

“North Korean athletes took part in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, along with a North Korean cheering squad, while a high-ranking North Korean delegation watched the games. But no one called it the Pyongyang Asian Games,” he said.

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