Koreas to cheer on a unified front

North and South Korea will have joint cheering squads at the Beijing Olympics.

    Korean fans are known for their passion as well as their organisation [GALLO/GETTY]

    North and South Korea have agreed to send their first joint cheering squads with a total of 600 members to this summer's Beijing Olympics in a move toward reconciliation, the South's Unification Ministry said.

    One squad will travel to Beijing for the first half of the Olympics and a second for the second half, the ministry said. Each will travel by train over a reconnected rail line linking the rival Koreas and consist of 150 people from each side, it said.

    It would be first time for the two Koreas to send joint cheering squads to the Olympics.

    Previously, athletes from North and South Korea have marched together during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and Asian Games but competed separately.

    The pact was finalised by officials at the North Korean border city of Kaesong after an initial agreement was reached at a meeting of the two countries' leaders in October.

    The squads will cheer for the North and South Korean national teams and attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, but details of the cheering methods have not been worked out, the ministry said.

    The Koreas reconnected two severed rail lines across their heavily fortified border after the first summit of their leaders in 2000.

    In December they began a weekday cargo rail service across the border for the first time in more than half a century to ship goods to and from a joint industrial complex in Kaesong.

    They also agreed in principle to begin passenger rail service to carry South Korean employees to and from the sprawling complex.

    North Korean workers will be allowed to use the train service within their country to
    commute to work.

    Details have yet to be worked out, and it is unclear when the service would start.

    The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two countries still technically at war.

    But their relations warmed after their first summit and improved further during their second summit last year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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