N.Korea's Asiad Participation in Limbo

With just 50 days remaining until the opening of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, cross-border talks about North Korea's participation in the Asiad are not making much progress.

The organizing committee of the Incheon Asian Games on Wednesday said the two Koreas cannot agree on the number of North Korean athletes and cheerleaders and the extent to which the South should subsidize their stay.

North Korean officials walked out of a meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom on July 17 and have not been in touch since.

In the meeting, the North Koreans said they want to send 350 athletes and 350 cheerleaders and asked South Korea to put them up for free.

This is more than twice the 150 athletes North Korea had earlier told the Olympic Council of Asia it was sending, and the largest number of cheerleaders ever.

The South Koreans said North Korea should pay for their stay itself in accordance with the OCA regulations, at which point the North Koreans stormed out.

A spokesman for the organizing committee said, "Unless the government makes special arrangements, the committee can’t unilaterally make promises of support to North Korean athletes. We expect the talks will resume before Aug. 15, when the roster needs to be finalized."

If the two sides can come to a compromise, the North Korean athletes will fly to Seoul and stay in the athletes' village with athletes from other countries. It costs about US$50 (US$1=W1,024) per person per night to stay there.

But the cheerleaders will arrive aboard a 9,700-ton ferry and stay on the ship moored at Incheon Port. That means accommodation as such is free but port fees and electricity must be paid for.

If North Korea does send a 700-strong delegation, the cost of their stay is estimated at around W1.5 to 2 billion.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 31, 2014 12:28 KST