S. Koreans to Race in North’s Marathon

Korea Times
Moon Gwang-lip
3/30/2007

For the first time in an inter-Korean sports cooperation, South Korea will participate in a marathon held in the North next month.

The Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation (SOSPF) said yesterday North Korea verbally agreed to invite its marathon team to the international race held in Pyongyang on April 8.

“The organizing committee of the event promised to send an official invitation via the Ministry of Unification,’’ Hwang Young-jo, gold medallist marathoner at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and now SOSPF marathon team coach, was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

Hwang, 37, visited North Korea early this month and applied to the organizing committee to compete in the event.

The North Korean marathon, created in 1981 in celebration of the birthday of the country’s late leader Kim Il-sung on April 15, has attracted athletes from China, Eastern Europe and Africa.

The SOSPF said, if the invitation is confirmed, two members from its marathon squad _ Je In-mo, 30, and his female teammate Kil Kyung-sun, 25 _ will compete in the event.

The coach said he hopes to exchange athletes in the future and will propose the North take part in joint training sessions.

“Maybe, we can have joint training sessions held once in the North and once in the South every year,’’ Hwang said. “Kaema plateau will be a good place to train in the hot summer and Cheju Island in the winter.’’

Kaema Plateau is a 1,500-meter highland region in Hamkyong Province, North Korea.

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