NK News reports that South Korean unification minister Lee In-young said he wants to send the country’s athletes and cheerleaders to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games using a railway that would pass through North Korean land. The idea itself is more than a decade old, but with just 10 months until the Beijing Olympics, Seoul is gunning for sports diplomacy and other projects to improve inter-Korean relations.
“Depending on what we do, I think the door is still open for dialogue and cooperation.
The Ministry of Unification will do its best to create momentum for reversing [the direction of] inter-Korean relations during the first half of 2021.”
If agreed upon, the train would depart Seoul Station, head to the inter-Korean border station of Dorasan, cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and head towards North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang. After North Koreans get on board and join the South Korean delegation, the train would then head to Sinuiju — a North Korean city at the border of China — and then towards Beijing, where the Olympic games will be held. As Lee sees it, the ride could create a “very symbolic moment” in history.
However, this would require the approval of the USA.
Former unification minister Jeong Se-hyun supports the inter-Korean railroad, but said it likely won’t happen unless relations between Washington and Pyongyang improve.
“Picking North Koreans up and then going to Beijing together — that’s the dream.
But the most important factor here is the United States. Even if North Korea gets on board with the train … The final say on whether the train will be allowed through the Demilitarized Zone is with, unfortunately, the U.S. Forces Korea commander.”