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Volume 7 No. 81
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North Korea's Late Participation Announcement Causing Trouble For Games Planners

North Korea's late announcement it will send a "large delegation" to next month's Winter Olympics has created "headaches for planners over accommodations and security," according to Jin & Chung of REUTERS. Behind the scenes, the logistics of bringing hundreds of North Korean officials, athletes, cheerleaders and artistic performers is "a challenge for both sides," officials and analysts said. Besides the "basics of securing transportation and other accommodations," South Korean officials are "keen to ensure the Olympics go off without a hitch." That also means "preventing any controversy over the North Korean visitors, including protecting them from possible attacks by extremist South Korean groups." Ryu Se-yeong, head of Allami Korea, one of the private security firms hired for the Games, said that he was concerned about the "lack of lead time to prepare for additional security for North Koreans, the vehicles and places to house the visitors." Ryu said, "Some of the hotels are already fully booked. I am worried where to accommodate such a large number of North Korean people. It is not easy to secure decent accommodations near the stadiums." The exact size of the North's delegation and its travel route to PyeongChang, just 80km (49.71 miles) away from the "heavily-fortified border" between North and South Korea, have yet to be determined, the South's unification ministry said. But a source said that the ministry expects the North Korean delegation to be comprised of 450 to 500 people, "without providing details." Officials said that they are "considering a number of travel possibilities, including a cruise ship, a flight or a land route across the heavily militarized border" (REUTERS, 1/11). REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann reported North and South Korean athletes "could parade together at the opening ceremony" of the Games, under a proposal the IOC will consider next week, a source said. Seoul previously proposed that the countries' athletes march together at the opening ceremony, and said that "Pyongyang had responded positively" (REUTERS, 1/11).

PARALYMPIC PROGRAMMING: Japanese broadcaster NHK announced it will broadcast live coverage of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in March. It will be the first time that NHK has shown a Winter Paralympics live (IPC).

FREE RIDES: In Seoul, Lim Jeong-yeo reported public transportation in PyeongChang and Gangneung will be "free of charge" during the Games. The organizing committee for PyeongChang 2018 said that there will be 700 shuttle buses for 27 routes "throughout the Olympics period." Passengers without Olympic tickets can also ride the buses for free (KOREA HERALD, 1/11).