(ATR) South Korean President Jae In Moon surprised PyeongChang 2018 volunteers at an event in Gangneung as part of a broader effort to promote the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Incheon to Gangneung high speed rail (PyeongChang 2018)
Moon arrived in Gangneung via the KTX High Speed Rail from Seoul. The rail line, which will open to the public this week, was the main infrastructure project associated with the 2018 Games. Trains from Incheon International Airport can now reach Gangneung , on the opposite coast, in around two hours. By bus, the same trip takes over four hours.
Joining Moon on his journey were 20 selected contest winners and 37 Korean sports editors. The Olympic fans were selected in a contest where Koreans posed on Instagram with their delivered Olympic tickets. The sports editors were selected in an effort to drive enthusiasm for the Games with less than two months to go.
Upon arriving in Gangneung, Moon attended a volunteer training session for the Games. Moon “personally expressed his gratitude for their service,” according to a report from Yonhap.
"Thanks to you, I am confident the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will be a festival for all people," Moon said to the contest winners, as quoted by Yonhap
. “We are thoroughly preparing for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, and we will have completely built the necessary transportation infrastructure for the event when the Seoul-Gangneung KTX line opens on Dec. 22.”
Moon discussed a number of topics during the ride with journalists, including the importance of domestic promotion of the 2018 Olympics, North Korean participation and East Asian cooperation. Moon told Korean reporters that any decision about a North Korean delegation will likely come “at the last minute”.
“We, South Korea, will keep working on North Korea through the IOC and IPC to encourage them to come to PyeongChang,” Moon said, as quoted by the Korea Times
. “We'll never give up."
Moon said that he grew up in the Southern coastal city of Busan - the host of the 2002 Asian Games - but had never heard of winter sports until he moved to Seoul. The Korea Times reported that Moon’s favorite Olympic moment was Yu Na Kim's gold medal skate at Vancouver 2010.
Moon Jae In is a PyeongChang 2018 ambassador (PyeongChang 2018)
Diplomatically, Moon has used the 2018 Olympic Games as part of his agenda for broader diplomatic ties with East Asian neighbors China and Japan. Moon’s trip to Gangneung came after a state visit to China earlier this month.
"The three Olympics in East Asia means a lot for the two Koreas and the region," Moon added. "If the three countries work together for the success of their Olympics, I think their cooperation will help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula as well as East Asia."
Speaking with NBC as part of his first international interview ahead of the Games, Moon suggested that the Olympics could lead to a delay in annual joint military drills with the U.S. No decisions about the military drills would be made without reviewing “how North Korea behaves.”
North Korea completed a test of its latest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile technology last month. The tests drew condemnation from the world, but experts say it is unlikely to accelerate any deterioration in the security situation
on the Korean Peninsula to affect the Games.
Written by Aaron Bauer
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