N. Korean athletes, believed to be attending taekwondo event in Kazakhstan, arrive in Beijing

A group of North Korean athletes, who are believed to be attending an international taekwondo event in Kazakhstan this weekend, arrived in Beijing on Thursday, according to scenes witnessed by Yonhap News Agency.

The arrival of the North Korean team in Beijing is seen as another step in the North's reopening after senior Russian and Chinese officials participated in a military parade in Pyongyang last month.

The North's team boarded a sleeper train at around 6:18 p.m. Wednesday in the Chinese border city of Dandong and arrived at a station in Beijing at 8:47 a.m. the following day.

The North Korean athletes were spotted waiting for all the other passengers in the train to get off before boarding two 38-seat buses parked at a platform in Beijing at around 9:12 a.m.

The buses, along with two black cars and a small van with the same license plate numbers used by the North Korean embassy, left the parking lot at 9:18 a.m.

The athletes are expected to fly from Beijing to Kazakhstan to participate in the ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships, slated to kick off this weekend in the capital of Astana.

Earlier on Wednesday, a pair of buses carrying the team were detected crossing from the North Korean border city of Sinuiju into China, marking the first time the reclusive country has sent a sports delegation abroad since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Korea has imposed border lockdowns due to the pandemic since early 2020.

Source: Yonhap News Agency