North Korea Accepts Seoul Gesture on Olympic Games


North Korea, in an apparent softening of policy, today accepted a letter from South Korea’s National Assembly urging it to attend the Seoul Olympics, parliamentary officials said.

It was the first communication communist North Korea has agreed to take from its adversary across the tense Demilitarized Zone since Roh Tae Woo assumed the presidency here in February.

The letter contained the text of an Assembly resolution, passed on July 1, appealing to Pyongyang to abandon its boycott and attend the Games, opening on Sept. 17, to pave the way for eventual reunification of the peninsula.


In the last month, Pyongyang has refused even to discuss appeals from Roh and from the Southern Red Cross to take tension-reducing steps including student and sporting exchanges.

Significance Unclear

It was not immediately clear whether North Korea, which sent an emissary to pick up the letter in the border village of Panmunjom, was in fact signaling a change of heart over the Olympics issue.

An enraged Pyongyang protested in 1981 when the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1988 Games to South Korea.

In a face-saving move, the IOC later mediated in vain at a series of talks between the two Koreas to discuss North Korea’s demand to be allowed to share in hosting the Games.

Since January, when Pyongyan rejected a “final offer” to stage five of the 24 Olympic events, Seoul and its allies in Washington have publicly expressed fears over possible attempts to sabotage the sports festival.