The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allayed fears that Asiana Airlines (OZ, Seoul Incheon) could be subject to US sanctions following a series of one-off charter flights between Yangyang and Wonsan, in Kangwon Province, North Korea.

The carrier is running the flights as part of a joint-training exercise for ski athletes from either side of the 38th parallel, the divide between the two Koreas, ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics being held in the South Korean city of PyeongChang.

"The government has made smooth progress with the US Department of the Treasury on the process of granting exceptions to US sanctions to prevent Korean companies from being affected by US sanctions," a foreign ministry official told the Yonhap news agency adding that consent was granted on Wednesday, January 31. "The government is in close consultation with the United States on matters related to Pyongyang's participation in the Olympics, with the view that the PyeongChang Olympic Games will be held successfully in accordance with the framework of sanctions against North Korea."

Under tightened US sanctions against North Korea, no ship or aircraft can visit the United States within 180 days of heading to North Korea.

The flight to North Korea took off on January 31 with approximately 30 South Korean athletes heading to the Masikryong Ski Resort to train with their counterparts from the North. Thereafter, on February 9, they will return home with a North Korean contingent onboard.