About 50 people believed to be North Korean athletes set to take part in an international taekwondo event in Kazakhstan arrived Wednesday in China’s border city of Dandong, marking the first time that Pyongyang has sent a domestic sports team overseas since its 2020 COVID-19 border closure.
In a scene witnessed by Kyodo News, the athletes boarded two buses in the North Korean border city of Sinuiju and crossed the Yalu River, which divides the two Asian countries, before arriving in Dandong. They are expected to travel to Beijing by train before flying to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
Several dozen people believed to be North Korean athletes set to take part in an international taekwondo event in Kazakhstan arrive on Aug. 16, 2023, in China’s border city of Dandong. The athletes are expected to travel to Beijing by train before flying to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, marking the first time Pyongyang has sent a domestic sports team overseas since its 2020 COVID-19 border closure. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
The International Taekwon-Do Federation, led by North Korea, will host the world championships from Friday to Aug. 26 in the Kazakh capital.
In April, Pyongyang sent two Japan-based male ethnic Korean karate athletes to a regional championship held in Taizhou, eastern China, marking a comeback to the international sports scene after a three-year absence due to the pandemic.
Pyongyang is expected to ease its border controls in stages. Preparations are under way for North Korean nationals stranded in China due to the stringent antivirus restrictions to return home, according to sources familiar with the country’s situation.
Tens of thousands of North Korean laborers remain in China and Russia due to the border closure.
Late last month, delegations from Russia and China attended a military parade and other events in Pyongyang to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, becoming the first known foreign groups to be invited to North Korea since its border closure.
In early July, North Korea stopped requiring its citizens to wear face masks as an antivirus measure.