South Korean women arrive in North Korea for football match

South Korean fans and North Korean ice hockey players provided a rare glimpse of inter-Korean unity Sunday, when they were brought together ahead of next year's Winter Olympics in the South.

The South Korean women's national football team has arrived in North Korea to play preliminaries for the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup.

The South Korean Navy will dispatch the 4,500-ton Kang Gam Chan destroyer and a Lynx helicopter while the US Navy has sent the USS McCampbell equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile defence system, an MH-60 anti-submarine chopper and an P-3 Orion patrol aircraft.

South Korea deployed its 4,500-ton Kang Gam Chan destroyer and a Lynx helicopter for the exercises, Japan sent a Sawagiri destroyer and an anti-submarine helicopter, and the USA dispatched the Aegis destroyer USS McCampbell, a MH-60 anti-submarine helicopter, and a P-3 Orion patrol plane. The anti-SLBM drills are based on a trilateral agreement reached last December in the most recent Defense Trilateral Talks.

Such encounters are a break from tensions that have dominated bilateral ties since the 1950-53 Korean War, with Seoul recently warning of a looming sixth North Korean nuclear test.

But almost 300 South Korean supporters waving unification flags cheered on the North.

In November, Japan and South Korea inked an agreement to share military intelligence on North Korea amid Pyongyang's ramped-up nuclear and missile programs.

Commissioned in 2007 and built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, the ship was involved in a rescue operation of the South Korean supertanker Samho Dream in April 2010, which was carrying oil from Iraq to the United States when Somali pirates hijacked the ship.

The three-day exercise took place in waters between South Korea and Japan, near Jeju Island, where the three countries' navies searched for and tracked a mock submarine, protected high-value units under a contingency scenario, and carried out anti-submarine defense maneuvers.

  • Leroy Wright