Gov’t OKs S. Korean football chief’s trip to N. Korea

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) — The head of South Korea’s football association plans to visit North Korea later this week to discuss ways to hold an inter-Korean football friendly, government officials said Wednesday.

The Unification Ministry approved a plan by Chung Mong-gyu, president of the Korea Football Association (KFA), and four other officials to visit Pyongyang from Friday to Monday, they said.

Chung is scheduled to attend a meeting of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) Executive Committee to be held in the North’s capital on Saturday. He also plans to hold talks with his North Korean counterpart over football exchange programs between the two Koreas.

In October 1990, the two Koreas held home-and-away men’s football matches in their Unification Football Tournament, but the event hasn’t been held since 2005.

Seoul has vowed to encourage civilian inter-Korean exchanges to increase in such areas as cultural activities and sports to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule and the division of the two Koreas.

South and North Korea reached a landmark deal on Aug. 25 to defuse military tensions and spur civilian inter-Korean exchanges.

But even if the two Koreas agree to hold inter-Korean football matches, the feasibility is in doubt due to North Korea’s possible provocations.

North Korea said Tuesday it is fully ready to use nuclear weapons against the United States “at any time” and also announced that it has resumed the operation of its nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon complex.

Late Monday, the North also vowed to launch what it called “a series of satellites” as it is preparing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ Party, which falls on Oct. 10.

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