N. Korea planning military event on eve of Pyeongchang Games

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Global sanctions clamping down on North Koreans working abroad may also have had an impact, denting the estimated $500 million funnelled into the reclusive regime from 100,000 nationals employed overseas, the source said.

Moon's nosedive in popularity comes at a time when North Korea may be taking advantage of the reconciliatory mood in Seoul, and calling for an "independent" unification that could split the U.S.

The specific timeframe for the two-day training session is yet to be confirmed, but the official said it could start as early as Jan 31. The South Korean advance team that reviewed the airport's safety measures and facilities, including the runway, taxiway and apron, pronounced the facilities and level of maintenance satisfactory. In 2015, it got a new airport, though it has been used only for domestic flights since.

Reuters that after coal exports from North Korea were banned by the U.N. Security Council on August 5, "the secretive Communist state has at least three times since then shipped coal to the Russian ports of Nakhodka and Kholmsk, where it was unloaded at docks and reloaded onto ships that took it to South Korea or Japan".

After their first formal talks in more than two years this month, officials from the two Koreas have been visiting each other to facilitate the North's participation in the Olympics, to be held in the South's alpine resort town of Pyeongchang.

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In this photo provided by the unification ministry, North Korean women's hockey players practice at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, on January 26, 2018. In regard to the cultural event program, the official said, "South Korea is thinking about contemporary music, traditional music and cultural events". The centre was jointly built in 1999, with South Korean conglomerate Hyundai in charge of construction and reportedly investing 46 billion won ($43 million) in the project.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday that a military response to Pyongyang's provocations would be "unacceptable".

"The South is considering playing modern and traditional music and holding literary events. The North said it would focus on traditional music", the official was quoted as saying.

The amount of refined oil needed for the inter-Korean event is said to be about ten-thousand liters.

The meeting between Mattis and South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo was scheduled as part of regular consultations between the two nations, but preparation for the February 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongCheng, South Korea was to be a major point of discussion.

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