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Winter Olympics 2018: Seoul forced to fork out MILLIONS for North Korea’s participation

The total cost is around £1.9million (2.86billion Korean won) and will come out of the South’s unification ministry budget.

The eye-watering sum covers the 400-strong North Korean delegation that travelled to the South for the Games and included arts performers, cheerleaders, and a taekwondo demonstration team.

The majority of visiting North Koreans stayed at luxury hotels in Seoul and near the Olympic venues in Pyeongchang.

This isn’t the first time Seoul has covered the North’s costs either – South Korea also paid the expenses of more than 600 North Koreans who visited the South during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon confirmed plans to cover the costs, describing North Korea’s participation in the Games as a milestone that could help to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean government invited their neighbours to the Games in a bid to reduce tensions after a year of soaring war fears and numerous missile tests by North Korea.

Kim Jong-un had suggested in his New Year address that he would welcome warmer relations with the South and he appears to have kept his promise, sending his sister Kim Yo-jong and a number of high-ranking officials to the South for the Games.

The North Korean leader even invited South Korean president Moon Jae-in to visit him in Pyongyang, which would be the first meeting of Korean leaders for 12 years.

While the underlying tensions remain, South Korea did postpone one of its routine military drills with the US, which always enrages Kim Jong-un.

But the North’s participation has been undoubted PR success for the secretive regime and the inclusion of Kim Jong-un’s sister in the Olympic delegation stunned the international community.

Jean Lee, former Pyongyang bureau chief for the Associated Press, explained: “To see a member of the Kim family in the flesh like that is so unusual for South Koreans that it’s not surprising they were fascinated by her.

“But it does also show how savvy the North Koreans are.

”They sent their prettiest women. Frankly when you go to North Korea, you have these guys who are drop dead gorgeous. They have told me sometimes that their job is to seduce us, so that in turn we are like, the country and the people, they’re not that bad.”

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