N.Korea to Take Part in Incheon Asian Games

North Korea wants to send a team of athletes to the 17th Asian Games in Incheon from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, its official [North] Korean Central News Agency said Friday.

The North Korean Olympic Committee has notified the Olympic Council of Asia and will soon submit an application.

The announcement came just one day after a North Korean artillery battery fired shots at a South Korean Navy ship in the West Sea.

It has prompted some observers to predict a thaw in cross-border relations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-uns wife Ri Sol-ju (far right) as a cheerleader during the Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon in 2005. /Courtesy of Incheon City Government North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's wife Ri Sol-ju (far right) as a cheerleader during the Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon in 2005. /Courtesy of Incheon City Government

The announcement was not unexpected. Back in January, the North said that both its men's and women's soccer teams will take part in soccer tournaments of the 2014 Asian Games. North Korea's has missed none of the recent Asian Games.

Since November last year, the organizing committee of the Incheon Asian Games has had a taskforce in place for North Korea's participation.

No decision has been made about the size of the North Korean team or whether both Korean teams will enter the stadium together during the opening and closing ceremonies.

This has happened eight times, including the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000, the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006, and the Busan Asian Games in 2002.

Experts are baffled by the North's simultaneous charm offensive and military provocations.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 26, 2014 12:43 KST