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North Korea: South's labor unions proposed friendly soccer match

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea’s national soccer team in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010. The North said Tuesday the South’s unions suggested a soccer match to commemorate Korean independence. UPI/Chris Brunskill
North Korea’s national soccer team in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010. The North said Tuesday the South’s unions suggested a soccer match to commemorate Korean independence. UPI/Chris Brunskill | License Photo

SEOUL, May 2 (UPI) -- North Korea's preoccupation with its upcoming Seventh Party Congress has not prevented the country from looking ahead.

Pyongyang's propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri announced Tuesday, local time, the South's labor unions had proposed a North-South soccer match to commemorate Korean independence on Aug. 15, Yonhap reported.

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The South's unions have not yet verified the announcement, and the North did not state whether or not they had agreed to the proposal.

But Pyongyang did not decline the offer, signaling a possible interest in rekindling civic exchange between the two sides.

Tensions between North and South have accelerated with Pyongyang's continued pursuit of weapons development – and frequent launches of ballistic missiles.

On Tuesday, however, North Korea said that on May 1, International Workers' Day, the South's "June 15 Joint Declaration" union committee sent a message to the North, proposing a match between amateur teams.

The date for the match would be Aug. 15, and the match would be held in Seoul, according to the message.

Last October, soccer teams of North and South labor unions met in a friendly match in Pyongyang.

Seoul's Unification Ministry had approved the travel plans of South Korea's labor unions to North Korea.

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The match was the first of its kind in eight years.

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