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S. Korea to propose more inter-Korean cultural, sports ties: minister

Leading South Korea's delegation for a concert in Pyongyang, the country's Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan expressed hope for the resumption of suspended inter-Korean projects, such as the publication of a unified Korean dictionary and the excavation of historic relics in Kaesong, according to a pool report released Sunday.

He stressed the importance of cultural and sports exchanges between the two Koreas, citing the momentum from the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that helped warm their long-frosty relations.

The Kim Jong-un regime dispatched athletes, cheerleaders and art performers to South Korea on the occasion of the Games held in South Korea earlier this year. It has also halted provocative acts, paving the way for Kim's summit talks with the South's President Moon Jae-in and U.S President Donald Trump in the coming months.

Do Jong-hwan (Yonhap)
Do Jong-hwan (Yonhap)

"I sincerely hope that the South-North summit (slated for April 27) will fare well and a peaceful co-existence regime will take root on the Korean Peninsula," Do told pool reporters Saturday traveling here to cover the musical performance.

He arrived in the North's capital earlier in the day, heading the 186-member delegation of K-pop stars, taekwondo performers, government officials and reporters.

The minister said the government plans to propose to the North that the work to compile the Korean People's Grand Dictionary, or Gyeoremal-keunsajeon in Korean, be restarted. The inter-Korean program was suspended in 2015 despite 25 rounds of meetings between the two sides' scholars, Do pointed out.

The same year, another inter-Korean project to excavate the site of Manwoldae, a Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) palace, came to a halt as well, affected by political stand-offs.

He added he also would like to ask the North to send artifacts to an exhibition on Goryeo to be hosted by the National Museum of Korea in Seoul later this year. It's to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of the kingdom.

In addition, the South will offer to hold joint activities with the North at the Asian Games that will open in Indonesia in August, Do added.

"I hope national homogeneity will be recovered through brisk cultural, sports, art, religious and social group exchanges," he said.

The South plans to hold a concert later Sunday and another one Tuesday. It will be the first performances by South Korean artists in the North since 2005.

It remains uncertain whether the North's leader will attend the show.

"Our president (Moon Jae-in) attended when (North Korea's art troupe) performed in Seoul (in February). Since we came here in a reciprocal format, I expect a similar thing to happen. But I have received no notification (from the North)," Do said.

Meanwhile, the South's delegation includes Yun Kun-young, a senior official at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. He's one of the closest aides to Moon.

The dispatch of Yun is to "manage the situations" in case of an unexpected incident there involving the delegation. He did not elaborate, a Cheong Wa Dae official said. (Yonhap)

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