Winter Paralympics kick off in Pyeongchang


Two North Koreans - who only began learning how to ski in December - became their isolated nation's first athletes to compete in the Winter Paralympics on Sunday, part of an Olympics-driven detente on the Korean peninsula.

It is quite a turnaround from a year ago, when Pyongyang tested missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland and detonated what it said was an H-bomb, sparking fury from Trump who threatened to "completely destroy" the North. The disagreement comes over the exclusion of South Korean-controlled and Japanese-contested disputed islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese.

Vitaliy Lukyanenko took the gold in the men's biathlon 7.5 km sprint for the visually impaired.

North Korea is represented by two cross-country skiers at their first winter Paralympics.

They had originally been expected to march alongside their South Korean counterparts at Friday's opening ceremony but a row over how their "unification flag" should appear halted the plan.

It will be the largest Winter Paralympics ever, with 570 athletes competing for 49 nations.

North Korea took center stage at the ceremony.

He told the Paralympians to keep fighting, play fair, have fun, and keep pushing their limits.

Snowboarder Mike Schultz, who has designed adaptive sports prosthetics that some of his teammates will be wearing in competition, has been named the USA flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Paralympics. He got into sports by playing wheelchair basketball in 2009 and also played para ice hockey in the past. The Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation is also participating.

Marie Bochet and Benjamin Daviet clinched France's first golds, in women's standing downhill skiing and men's standing biathlon respectively.

North Korea pulled out of the joint march after South Korea made a decision to remove islands claimed by Japan from the flag, which depicts the Korean peninsula.

Unlike the Olympics opening ceremony, North and South Korea's athletes did not march together after failing to agree on which version of the unified flag to use.