North Korea in focus as biggest Paralympics opens

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The Winter Paralympics began amid a dazzling spectrum of color and music at Friday's opening ceremony as Pyeongchang welcomed its second worldwide sporting extravaganza of 2018.

The PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games will kick off its 10-day campaign on Friday with the opening ceremony scheduled at 8 p.m.

Hailing from 48 nations, plus the Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation, athletes will contend in 80 medal events across six sports: Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, Para ice hockey, snowboard and wheelchair curling.

And while South and North Korea didn't march together, the North does have its first ever team at the Paralympics.

Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium, South Korea, March 9, 2018.

At the winter Olympics that ended in Pyeongchang last month, Poland won two medals, placing it 20th in the medals table.

It is the latest sign of an intense rapprochement between the North and South that began at the Winter Olympics in February.

Alpine skier Han Sang-min became the first South Korean to claim a Winter Paralympic medal in 2002, when he took silver in giant slalom LW12 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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On January 29, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced that it kept in force the suspension of the RPC after receiving an update from the IPC Taskforce responsible for monitoring the RPC's progress in meeting the reinstatement criteria.

Arendz won a silver and a bronze at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, and earned five medals at 2017 Para-Nordic World Championships.

"My family used to go on snowboarding vacations, so (after the accident) I leapt at the chance to get back on a board", he said before leaving for South Korea.

In addition, athletes from Russian Federation will also take part under the banner of "neutral Paralympic athletes" after their nation failed to satisfy the International Paralympic Committee over doping concerns.

"The Winter Games are so special because they're the only place you're going to see people throwing themselves off mountains, sliding down tracks and generally doing mad things".

Among the flagbearers at the opening ceremony were many of those figures.

Athletes from each country will enter the venue in order of the Korean alphabet, ahead of a speech by South Korean president Moon Jae-In. It was followed by the playing of the South Korean national anthem and hoisting of the country's flag before the traditional Parade of Nations was held.

Also defying the odds is Japan's ice sledge hockey goaltender Shinobu Fukushima, who makes an astonishing return to the Paralympics for the fourth time, now aged 61.