SEOUL, South Korea (AP) " South Korea says it has approved the North Korean women's ice hockey team to compete in an international event in South Korea next month.

Seoul's Unification Ministry on Wednesday said the North Korean team was be permitted to stay from April 1-9 to participate in the group rounds of the Ice Hockey Women's World Championship.

North Korean athletes haven't competed in South Korea since the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon. The women's world championship is one of the many sports events South Korea plans to host at Olympic facilities to prepare for next year's Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Relations between the rival Koreas have significantly worsened over the past year after a series of rocket launches by North Korea.