14:45 GMT04 August 2020
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    A North Korean ship carrying about 120 Samjiyon Orchestra members has arrived at South Korea's port of Mukho to take part in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games.

    Pyongyang has slammed South Korean activists protesting the North's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics as a "spasm of psychopaths," according to the AFP news agency.

    Referring to the protesters, the North Korean state-run news agency KCNA said that they "ran around like headless chickens, barking that 'the ship of reds came, 'go back to your country' and 'boost the south Korea-US alliance'".

    "Worse still, they made no bones about besmirching the dignity of the DPRK supreme leadership and burning the flags of the DPRK and the Korean Peninsula. They are no more than a group of benighted gangsters inferior to beasts," KCNA noted.

    The protests came after a vessel from North Korea with 120 Samjiyon Orchestra members on board entered the South Korean port of Mukho on Tuesday.

    On Thursday, the Samjiyon Orchestra is slated to perform in the South Korea city of Gangneung which will host the Pyeongchang Games' ice events. Sunday will see the troupe performe in the capital Seoul.

    AFP has, meanwhile, reported that about 156,000 South Koreans have applied for "530 pairs of available tickets" for the performance.

    Protests Against 'Stolen' Olympics

    Burning North Korean flags is not uncommon for anti-Pyongyang activists who set these flags and photos of Kim Jong-un on fire during last month's protest rally near the train station in Seoul, where a delegation of North Korean cultural figures was scheduled to arrive.

    The rally, organized by the Korean Patriotic Party, was dispersed by police.

    Blaming North Korea for allegedly hijacking the upcoming Olympic Games, anti-Pyongyang activists ripped up photos of Kim Jong-un during another protest rally in Seoul in late January.

    "This is the uniform will of the 32,000 North Korean defectors who have put their lives on the line in their journey to South Korea," AP quoted North Korean-born activist Park Sang-hak as saying during the rally.

    South Korean authorities, however, remain unfazed, pointing out that the Pyeongchang Games may contribute to improving bilateral ties amid ongoing tension between the two Koreas.

    In mid-January, the South Korean Ministry of Unification said in a statement that Pyongyang will send a performing squad of 140 Samjiyon Orchestra members to the South as part of North Korea's participation in the 2018 Olympics.

    READ MORE: Big Change in Korean Settlement Unlikely After Winter Games — Olympics Envoy

    January 9 saw a breakthrough decision clinched by Pyongyang and Seoul which agreed on North Korean athletes, fans and musicians visiting the Pyeongchang Games.

    The sides also announced the joint training of teams in one of the ski resorts in North Korea.

    In a New Year's Day speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, signaled his readiness to improve relations with the South and send a delegation to the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, due to be held between February and February 25.

    The South Korean news agency Yonhap, for its part, reported that a total of 22 North Korean athletes will participate in the Pyeongchang Games' three sports events, in addition to the ice hockey team, which has already arrived in South Korea.


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    leadership, activists, rally, ship, protests, 2018 Winter Olympics, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea
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