July 15 - The Mayor of Gwangju, Kang Un-tae, has told of his hopes to see a unified Korean team at the 2015 Summer Universiade in his city, whilst four North Korean students were invited to the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP), which will take place in Gwangju next month, to boost the relationship between the nations teenagers.
UN Special Advisor of Sports, Wilfried Lemke, who is also acting as mediator for the formation of a joint Korean team, visited North Korea and received a positive response from the authorities, indicating a green light towards resuming interchange of communication through sports between the two Koreas.
During his four-day trip, Lemke met with North Korean sports officials such as Ri Jongmoo, Minister of Sport, Jang Woong, chairman of the National Olympic Committee, along with representatives of the Football federation and Women Sports Committee, and officially requested the participation of four North Korean youths at the YLP.
Kang, who is also the co-chairperson of Gwangju 2015, said: "UN Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Wilfried Lemke, visited Pyongyang from the sixth to the ninth at the invitation of North Korea and discussed about the participation of North Korea in the programme organised by Gwangju and UNOSDP (United Nations office on sport for development and peace).
"I believe if the participation of the North Korean youths for the YLP is achieved, then we have good reason to believe in the successful formation of the joint South-North Korean team at the 2015 Gwangju Universiade.
The UN received a positive response from North Korean to the invitation, and the UNOSDP reported that North Korea showed a willingness to cooperate further in regard to this matter.
The YLP is a sports training programme for youths from Africa, Palestine, and other developing countries and areas experiencing conflict, and will be held every year in Gwangju until 2015.
If the North Korean youngsters take part in the programme, it will not only be the first time the youths of the two Koreas meet, but will also be the first sport and culture exchange between the nations since July 2008.
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October 2012: Gwangju 2015 Universiade chief calls for a united Korean team