N. Korea, China sign accord on sports exchanges for next year

December 21, 2015

BEIJING (Yonhap) — North Korea and China have signed an accord on sports exchanges for next year, a Chinese state-run media reported on Monday, in a sign that the allies push ahead with exchanges despite canceled concerts by an all-female North Korean band.

The accord was signed between Son Kwang-ho, vice minister of North Korea’s sports ministry, and Yang Shuan, deputy secretary of the General Administration of Sports of China, in Beijing on Sunday, according to the report by a newspaper published by the Chinese sports authorities.

After signing the accord, Son told Yang that the accord would help North Korea and China “promote bilateral sports exchanges more widely.”

Son also congratulated Yang on China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, adding that North Korea is “actively preparing for” the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to the report.

Yang told Son that he hopes the accord will “further strengthen communication, enhance mutual understanding and friendship, and promote sports exchanges and contribute to the development of friendly relations between the two countries.”

They made no mention of the sudden cancellation of three-day concerts by North Korea’s Moranbong Band on Dec. 12.

The Moranbong Band had been scheduled to perform in Beijing, in what was seen as a fresh sign that political ties between the allies were on the mend after years of strain over the North’s nuclear ambition.

But, the band abruptly headed home hours before the concerts began. China’s official Xinhua News Agency attributed the cancellation to unspecified “communication issues.”

China remained tightlipped over the reason of the cancellation. North Korea has also made no official comments on the cancellation of the Moranbong Band, formed in 2012 by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.