Basketball helps 2 Koreas in their bid to mend fences
South and North Korean players of Team Peace wave as they arrive to play in a friendly basketball game at Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. (Korea Pool via AP)
North and South Korea on Wednesday pushed to strengthen their ties by partaking in two days of friendly basketball games in Pyongyang.
The deeply divided neighbors — forming teams that combined players from both nations — played Wednesday and are scheduled to compete Thursday in the Ryugyong Jong Ju Gymnasium in the North Korean capital city.
The rival Koreas on Wednesday began two days of friendly basketball games in Pyongyang in their latest goodwill gesture amid a diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea. (Korea Pool via AP)
The two women’s teams, which were separated into “Peace” in white jerseys and “Prosperity” in green jerseys, marched onto the court holding hands.
Team Prosperity won 103-102, Yonhap News Agency reported, noting that the game “was neck and neck.” The men’s game ended in a tie, 102-102.
According to the South Korean news outlet, this is the fourth time the Koreas have participated in friendly basketball games — the last time was in October 2003.
Kim Il Guk, North Korea’s sports minister, said in a speech that the games reflect the “revered determination of the leaders of the North and South to bring forward the future of a self-reliant unification.”
South and North Korean players of Team Peace wave as they arrive to play in their friendly basketball game at Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. (Korea Pool via AP)
Inter-Korean relations have warmed since North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un announced efforts to achieve a diplomatic outreach with South Korea in a New Year’s speech.
The two countriesmarched side by side in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games for the first time as part of a joint Olympic team, and two summits between Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-In have since taken place.
The recent thawing of inter-Korean relations comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeoprepares to depart for his third tripto North Korea on Thursday. There, he’ll visit Pyongyang for two days amid reports the North has been secretly expanding a major nuclear missile plant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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