North raises South Korean flag at weightlifting event

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 3:26am

A South Korean weightlifter heard his national anthem played yesterday after winning gold in an international competition in North Korea, an unusual development between the bitter rivals and a vivid sign of the Koreas' easing tensions after a spring of war threats.

Two South Koreans in the junior competition at the Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship in Pyongyang, Kim Woo-sik and Lee Young-gun, were the only competitors in the 85 kilogram weight category and automatically won gold and silver. The crowd in Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Indoor Stadium stood as the South Korean national anthem played and two South Korean flags were raised.

It's the first time South Korean athletes have attended an international sports event in North Korea.

The South Korean delegation is composed of 41 athletes, sports officials and others.

Seoul said it allowed the trip because the competition is an international match organised by the Asian weightlifting federation.

South Korean athletes last visited North Korea when a South Korean youth soccer team travelled to Pyongyang in 2008 for a friendly inter-Korean match.

In recent weeks, the Koreas - still technically at war because no peace treaty has been signed - have restored a military hotline at the border, agreed to restart a jointly run factory park shut down in April, and will have reunions this month of families separated by the war.