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article imageSeoul picks up $260-per-meal tab for N. Korea delegates: reports

By AFP     Feb 21, 2018 in Lifestyle

The South Korean government spent more than $260 per meal per person for the high-level North Korean delegates including leader Kim Jong Un's sister who visited the Winter Olympics, reports said.

The nuclear-armed North sent four top officials including Kim Yo Jong and the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, along with 18 support staff, to the Pyeongchang Winter Games as it mounted a charm offensive.

The February 9-11 trip cost the Seoul government a total of 240 million won ($220,000), Yonhap news agency cited a unification ministry as saying.

That included 130 million won for accommodation including rooms at luxury hotels in Seoul and Gangneung, 50 million won for transport and another 50 million won for food, it said late Wednesday.

On the basis that the delegates ate eight meals during their two and a half day stay, the food cost averages 284,000 won per meal per head, or $261.

The menus for the delegates included pollack, kimchi and soju at the South's presidential Blue House where they met President Moon Jae-In, and marinated beef at a farewell dinner in Seoul.

The two Koreas reached a deal last month to send the North's athletes, artistes, cheerleaders and senior delegates to the February 9-25 Games and agreed that Seoul would shoulder the cost of their trips.

The South budgeted about 3 billion won for the purpose, excluding the athletes' costs, which officials said would be covered by the International Olympic Committee.

The isolated, impoverished but nuclear-armed North is under a thick layer of sanctions imposed over its widely condemned atomic and missile tests.

The North's participation in what Seoul promoted as a "peace Olympics" raised concerns over potential violations of the sanctions, from a visit by a blacklisted Pyongyang official to free Samsung smartphones given to all Olympics athletes.

The UN Security Council temporarily lifted the sanction on Choe Hwi, a senior Pyongyang sports official, while the North's athletes reportedly declined to accept the high-end gadgets.

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