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South Korean athletes compete at international sports event in North Korea for first time

Sep 13, 2013, 11:50 AM EST

South Korea AP

The photo to the right is a significant one. It’s a South Korean athlete carrying his flag into the opening ceremony of the 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday.

North Korea allowed South Koreans to march in with their flag and to have their national anthem play should they win gold, according to reports. It’s the first time South Koreans have competed at an international sporting event in North Korea.

There has long been tension between the two countries. In Olympic terms, the most recent was North Korea offering to host some Olympic skiing events for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. That offer was rejected.

The South Korean delegation at the Pyongyang event includes a reported 41 athletes, officials and others.

The last time South Korean athletes competed in North Korea was 2008, when a youth football team played a friendly, according to reports. North and South Korea have marched together at the opening ceremony of some recent Olympics.

Pyeongchang South Korean Olympic champion archer uses bow and arrow for ceremonial first pitch