Kim Jong-un Ups Pressure Over Asian Games

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday said his country's participation in the Asian Games in South Korea will help improve cross-border relations.

"Participation in the Asian Games will provide important momentum for improving inter-Korean relations and removing distrust," the state-run [North] Korean Central News Agency quoted him as saying.

The remarks came after talks between the two Koreas broke down last Thursday over the question who should pay for hundreds of North Korean athletes and cheerleaders to take part.

After watching a soccer match, Kim said, "It is our principled stand that the inviolable sports should not be a political bargaining chip of the undesirable forces."

He indirectly accused the South of deliberately scuppering the talks.

Earlier, North Korean propaganda organs blamed the South for the rupture of the talks, saying it displayed an "improper attitude" to the talks.

The North Korean delegation had insisted Seoul provide free accommodation for 350 North Korean athletes, and for the same number of cheerleaders who were to sleep on a North Korean ship docking in Incheon harbor.

When Seoul questioned why the numbers had shot up from 150 in the initial approach and offered to arrange accommodation under "international practice" -- i.e. that the North Korean regime should pay for their accommodation -- the North Koreans stormed out.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (far left) claps while watching a soccer match in Pyongyang, in this photo released by Rodong Sinmun on Sunday. Next to Kim is Kim Yang-gon, the director of the United Front Department in charge of inter-Korean relations. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (far left) claps while watching a soccer match in Pyongyang, in this photo released by Rodong Sinmun on Sunday. Next to Kim is Kim Yang-gon, the director of the United Front Department in charge of inter-Korean relations.

Meanwhile, Kim Yang-gon, the director of the Workers Party's United Front Department in charge of inter-Korean relations reappeared during the football game, sitting next to Kim.

The elderly apparatchik had been rumored to have quit his job due to health problems after disappearing from public view for about 100 days.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 21, 2014 10:16 KST