North Korea has sent an application through an international federation to participate in a women's international ice hockey tournament to be held in South Korea next week as a test event for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The International Ice Hockey Federation's Women's World Championship Division II Group A will take place in the eastern port city of Gangneung in Gangwon Province from April 2-8.
South Korea has yet to approve North Korea's application, but Gangwon Province Governor Choi Moon-soon said North Korea are likely to compete in Gangnung which will host Winter Olympic events next year along with the eastern ski resort of Pyeongchang.
If the green light comes from South Korea, an inter-Korean match may take place on April 6, Choi said. "It has yet to be approved, but North Korea's participation is highly possible."
Winter Olympic organizers hope North Korea will send a delegation to Pyeongchang as it did for the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea's western port of Incheon. North Korea finished 7th with 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals in Incheon.
Seoul has almost suspended all civilian inter-Korean trade and exchanges as part of strengthened international sanctions triggered by North Korea's military provocations including a series of missile and nuclear tests.
South Korean women footballers are to hold an inter-Korean match on April 7 in Pyongyang. South Korea were grouped with North Korea, Uzbekistan, Hong Kong and India in Group B for AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifying matches.
Seoul insists female footballers should be allowed to hoist their flag and sing a national anthem in Pyongyang. The two Koreas are still technically at war, with each refusing to recognize the other side as an independent state.
There have been no official inter-Korean football matches in Pyongyang. In 1990, South Korea sent a team for a friendly.
Lim Chang-won = email@example.com