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NK figure skaters arrive in Beijing ahead of Four Continents

BEIJING -- The North Korean figure skating duo Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, who will most likely compete in South Korea's PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month, arrived in Beijing on Saturday ahead of an international competition in Taiwan.

Ryom and Kim, along with two coaches, were spotted arriving at the Beijing Capital International Airport via the North's Air Koryo at around 11:20 a.m. The group was apparently stopping by before heading to the International Skating Union (ISU) Four Continents Figure Skating Championships to be held in Taipei, Taiwan, starting Monday.

An accompanying coach said they were stopping in Beijing before heading to Taipei.

North Korean figure skating duo Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik arrive in Beijing on Saturday.(Yonhap)
North Korean figure skating duo Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik arrive in Beijing on Saturday.(Yonhap)

Ryom and Kim qualified for an Olympic spot last September but missed an Oct. 30 deadline to confirm their participation. But the pair will likely compete at PyeongChang after the two Koreas agreed on four sports -- pair figure skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and women's ice hockey -- in which North Korean athletes will participate.

The ISU has noted in the past that Ryom and Kim have "met all the necessary technical requirements" to skate in the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee will host a meeting with officials from the two Koreas to finalize details of the North's Olympic cooperation in Lausanne, Switzerland.

When asked whether the pair's program at the Four Continents will be the same one for the Olympics, a coach simply answered, "Yes." When asked about how it felt to likely compete at PyeongChang, Kim replied, "No comment."

The Koreas are expected to march together under the Korea Unification Flag at the opening ceremony for PyeongChang on Feb. 9.

It will be their 10th joint march at an international multi-sport competition and their first in 11 years. (Yonhap)

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