South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Sunday that North Korean athletes' participation in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics will help ease tensions on the peninsula and serve as a stepping stone to establishing peace.
"The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will work to lay the groundwork for the easing of tensions and the establishment of peace on the Korean peninsula in addition to the reconciliation of the two Koreas," Yoon Young-chan, chief press secretary to President Moon Jae-in, said in a statement.
The spokesman also said that easing tensions would help dispel the so-called Korean discount, which refers to a tendency to undervalue or even avoid South Korean stocks due to geopolitical risks associated with the communist North.
The IOC said Saturday that North Korea will be allowed to send 22 athletes to compete in three sports at the games after a meeting with representatives from the two Koreas in Lausanne, Switzerland. The delegation includes 12 North Korean athletes who will join the South Korean women's hockey squad to establish the first joint Olympic team by the two countries.
South Korea will make efforts to maintain Pyongyang's reconciliatory attitude even after the games, the presidential office said.
In the face of criticism that forming a joint team is disadvantageous to South Korean athletes, who will have fewer chances to play, the government has emphasized that the move will pave the way for a possible reconciliation of the two Koreas.
Last week, President Moon Jae-in visited the National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, and said a joint team would contribute to creating a "better chance" to develop inter-Korean relations.
The Winter Olympics will be held from Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul, together with the sub-host cities of Gangneung and Jeongseon. (Yonhap)