Gov't to Shell out More Than W2.9 Billion for N.Koreans at Olympics

  • By Choi Yeon-jin

    February 08, 2018 12:52

    The government has set aside around W2.9 billion from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to cover the accommodation of North Korean athletes and performers who are visiting the South for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (US$1=W1,086).

    According to a National Assembly source on Wednesday, the Unification Ministry in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday afternoon agreed to set that amount aside. "The ministry will set aside more money if necessary," the source said.

    It will be used to pay for food, lodging, transport and other costs for the North Korean visitors.

    Hyon Song-wol, the leader of North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra, arrives at Gangneung Culture and Art Center in Gangneung, Gangwon Province on Wednesday.

    The ministry already withdrew W27.05 million from the fund to cover the cost of taking care of North Korean officials who came to the South to inspect sites here on Jan. 22 and 25.

    It spent W17.97 million ton food and lodging for the 15 officials, W6.62 million for transportation and W2.46 million for reserves.

    Another W53 million was spent to finance a government Olympic task force, W95 million to pay to operate on-site offices in Pyeongchang and Seoul, W90 million for a chartered plane that took athletes to and from North Korea's Masikryong Ski Resort, and W11 million for the KTX tickets for North Korean bandleader-cum-apparatchik Hyon Song-wol and her entourage when they visited Gangneung to inspect concert venues for an upcoming performance of her Samjiyon Orchestra.

    During the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the government spent W1.3 billion to host North Korean cheerleaders and during the Daegu Universiade in 2003 W900 million.

    One opposition party official said, "The government is not being transparent about the money it's spending on North Koreans. They must be hiding something to avoid being accused of violating international sanctions."

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