A South Korean public broadcasting chief who heads a professional Asian broadcasting group is set to visit North Korea this week to discuss media coverage of the Summer Olympics, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday.
Kim In Kyu, who is president of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), will visit Pyongyang Tuesday through Thursday, ministry spokeswoman Park Soo Jin said.
Kim, who also heads South Korean public broadcaster KBS, will be the first South Korean civilian authorized to visit the North since a group went to pay respects after the death of the former North Korean leader in December.
"Kim's visit, allowed for his capacity as the ABU president, will be limited to discussing broadcasting issues with the North," Park said.
Kim is making the trip to officially license KRT, the North’s radio and television broadcasting committee, the rights to air coverage of the Olympic games which begin in London this Friday, ABU said in a statement on its website.
ABU was mandated to handle the license by private South Korean broadcaster SBS, which controls the rights to air the Olympic games in the entire Korean peninsula—the two sides of which remain technically at war since their conflict ended only in an armistice in 1953.
SBS will be among those broadcasting the games in the South but has mandated ABU to handle the rights in North Korea.
Travel by South Koreans to the North has been severely restricted due to sanctions imposed following two deadly attacks in 2010.
ABU said Kim’s group would also discuss other cooperation in broadcasting with the North, which retains an iron grip on information and is one of the world’s most restricted media environments.
“The delegation will also hold meetings with KRT to seek cooperation in technical, contents, and training programs,” it said.
ABU provided impoverished North Korea with the license to broadcast coverage of Beijing Olympics in 2008, when the country won six medals.
Along with world soccer body FIFA, ABU also provided the live broadcast in North Korea of the 2010 World Cup, at which the North Korean team suffered a humiliating defeat.
North Korea has won 41 Olympic medals, 10 of them gold, since it joined the games in 1964.
This year, it has sent 51 athletes to compete in 11 events at the Olympics, including women’s soccer, marathon, table tennis, wrestling, judo, and weightlifting.
"The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) pins its hopes on weightlifting and wrestling, in particular. Women's football [soccer] is also hopeful," state news agency KCNA said last week as its players made their way to London.
Reported by RFA’s Korean service. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.