South Korea's new sports minister is pushing to form an inter-Korean women's hockey team ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Do Jong-whan, who was appointed minister of culture, sports and tourism last week, said during a visit to the headquarters of the Pyeongchang organizing committee on Tuesday that North Korea's participation should help promote inter-Korean peace through the Olympics.
"Hopefully we'll be able to ease lingering tensions as we try to bring North Korea on board," he added. He pledged to discuss the suggestion with the International Olympic Committee.
South Korea gained a berth in the women's ice hockey event alongside seven other teams, but North Korea did not make it. To put together a single team, negotiations must take place between the South Korean team, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the IOC.
Do said he wants to meet with IOC President Thomas Bach and North Korea's IOC representative Chang Ung at the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, North Joella Province late this month.
Do said he is also considering holding some of the Winter Games events in North Korea's new ski resort. "North Korea says the Masikryong Ski Resort was built according to global standards, and I intend to discuss this with Chang," Do said. "I'm also thinking about the Olympic torch passing through Kaesong or Pyongyang."
Bach arrives here on June 29 to attend the closing ceremony of the World Taekwondo Championships and inspect the preparations for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
He was originally scheduled to leave on July 1 but will stay longer to meet President Moon Jae-in on July 3 after Moon returns from his trip to the U.S.