Winter Olympics 2018: Kim Jong-un's sister to attend

Bill Rogers
February 9, 2018

Skeptics say the North's outreach to the South over the Olympics is an attempt at weakening US -led sanctions and pressure against the country and at buying more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles development.

High-profile North Korean officials including Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae and the late Kim Yang Gon visited the South in October 2014 to attend the closing ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon.

During the parade, North Korea demonstrated its new intercontinental ballistic missile named Hwasong-15, which it claims can reach the US mainland.

Vice President Mike Pence is trying to counter North Korean "propaganda" around the Winter Olympics with his own symbolism and rhetoric, shining a spotlight on the North's nuclear weapons program and human rights abuses. "But we'll see what happens". He adds that children and grandchildren are routinely punished for their family's sins against the state. Pence, along with his wife, Karen, will lead an American delegation that includes two top military commanders. He told troops to "be vigilant", warning against falling for the North's diplomatic overtures.

Pence says the U.S.is "ready for every eventuality".

Before departing Japan for Korea earlier Thursday, Pence warned that past attempts to pursue openings with the North have been met with "willful deception, broken promises, and endless and escalating provocations". He has limited room to maneuver as his guest from Washington strongly criticizes the North and emphasizes the need to crank up the pressure campaign. They are expected to be implemented before the conclusion of the games. "And we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Japan, the people of South Korea, and our allies and partners across the region until we achieve the global objective of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula". The United Nations bans sending luxury items to North Korea or to North Korean nationals.

South Korea asked the U.N. Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee for an exemption to allow Choe to travel.

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"It is going to take a lot more than a North Korean Olympic delegation to undermine this alliance", Knapper said.

The Yonhap news agency reports that Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-Kyeom said, "President Moon plans to hold a meeting and have lunch with the North Korean delegation on February 10", However, Dae did not disclose the location of the planned meeting. "If South Korea, the neighboring nation that should be most alarmed by North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, makes clear that it is adopting a conciliatory approach, the worldwide net encircling North Korea will loosen", a senior Japanese government official told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

"She lived in the embassy under an alias with her brother", Michael Madden, a North Korean expert who runs a leadership-watch blog and contributes to Johns Hopkins University's Korean Studies site, told ABC News.

Her inclusion in the delegation is "meaningful" as she is not only the sister of the country's leader but has a significant position as a senior official of the ruling Workers' Party, the South's presidential Blue House said. He added that the policy is backed by "viable military options".

Aides acknowledged that the vice president's cynical message is an unusual one for Pence, but said the circumstances warrant the tone.

But their arrival has sparked debate about whether they are a propaganda tool to buy more time for North Korea to consolidate its growing nuclear arsenal. Abe added that the USA and Japan are "100 percent on the same page" on North Korean policy.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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