Seoul, Feb 25 (IANS) A high-level North Korean delegation led by a top official accused of having masterminded the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship, arrived in the South on Sunday to attend the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Kim Yong-chol, a key party official handling inter-Korean affairs, arrived at a checkpoint in Paju, south of the inter-Korean border via a land route at 9.53 a.m., heading the eight-member delegation for a three-day trip to South Korea, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The 72-year-old Kim is at the centre of a controversy as he is suspected of having orchestrated the North’s torpedoing of the corvette Cheonan in March 2010. The naval attack left 46 South Korean sailors dead.
Conservative lawmakers and families of the victims of the sinking held a rally to block his trip to the South on the route to the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) office in Paju.
The South Korean government said it has accepted Kim’s trip despite negative public sentiment, as it believes that the trip will help improve inter-Korean ties and pave the way for dialogue toward peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The opening ceremony of the Games on February 9 was attended a another high-level North Korean delegation that included its ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the leader Kim Jong-un.