Inter-cultural exchanges build trust between U.S.-N. Korea

Posted on : 2007-09-11 10:40 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Sports and arts contribute to relaxed atmosphere and increased cooperation

WASHINGTON- Along with progress at the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs, non-governmental exchanges between North Korea and the United States have showed signs of detente.

Kim Myong-gil, North Korea’s minister to the U.N. mission in New York, who has been banned from traveling more than 48 kilometers outside of Manhattan, reportedly visited Washington D.C. with his family on Sept. 8-9, a source close to the situation in Washington said.

“Minister Kim’s unusual tour to Washington was approved by the U.S. State Department,” the source said. “Though the Washington visit by Kim’s family and other North Korean officials isn’t meaningful, it’s a sign that, overall, North Korea-U.S. relations have improved,” said the source.

Meanwhile, starting Oct. 4, a group of North Korean taekwondo (Korea’s traditional martial art) athletes will travel to the United States for the first time to showcase their skills in five cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta. The group, which will spend 13 days in the United States, consists of 13 athletes and five executive members of the North’s Chosun Taekwondo Committee.

In addition, three North Korean boxers will join the World Boxing Championship in Chicago next month. It will be the first time in more than a decade that North Korean athletes will join a sports event in the United States since the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996.

An exchange program for information-technology professionals from the North’s Kim Chaek University of Technology and the United States’ Syracuse University recently resumed after being suspended by the nuclear test conducted by North Korea in October of last year.

North Korea invited the New York Philharmonic to perform in Pyongyang in August and the orchestra is said to be considering the invitation.

The expansion of non-governmental exchanges between North Korea and the United States is generally seen as a stepping stone in building bilateral trust toward normalizing ties between the two countries. These efforts are likely to be expanded further in line with progress in the North’s nuclear disarmament efforts.

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