— Published 21 August 2023

North Korea breaks out of its isolation

There can be no further doubt: North Korea’s interminable isolation from the Olympic movement is over. A few weeks before the next Asian Games in Hangzhou (23 September to 8 October 2023), where a delegation has been confirmed, a North Korean team is taking part this week in an international taekwondo competition in Astana, Kazakhstan. It is the first to travel abroad since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. South Korea’s Yonhap and Japan’s Kyodo News were the first to report the news, saying with photos that a group of people believed to be North Korean athletes had crossed the land border between North Korea and China on Wednesday 16 August, before travelling to Beijing to board a plane for Astana. The team’s participation was later confirmed by an image of five North Korean athletes posted on the competition’s official Facebook page. Earlier this year, Pyongyang entered a national team in a weightlifting competition in Cuba, but in the end none of its athletes made the trip.