Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Merle Christensen

UN Secretary-General meets N Korean delegation


Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump's lookalikes revealed they had planned to meet US Vice-President Mike Pence and the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong when they gatecrashed the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Ms Kim invited Mr Moon to visit "at the early date possible", a spokesman for South Korea's presidential palace said.

Vice President Pence, who led the US delegation to the Olympics and sat nearby Kim Jong Un's sister during the opening ceremony emphasized that for dialogue to take place with North Korea it must commit to taking nuclear weapons out of use.

On the flight home from his Asian-Pacific trip flying somewhere over South Korea, Pence told reporters aboard Air Force Two that he appreciated Moon's transparency and perspective on North Korea, but reiterated that the USA and South Korea will "continue to stand strong and to work in a coordinated way to bring maximum economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea".

It capped a whirlwind 24 hours that began with the opening ceremony and included a lunch at the presidential mansion between Moon and Kim Yo Jong, the powerful Kim sister who came bearing the blue folder.

The night before, Kim and other North Korean delegates attended the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, watching a "unified" Korean team march under a banner showing an undivided Korean Peninsula. The first liberal president in a decade, Moon during his inauguration speech previous year that he would be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong Un if that helps solve the nuclear problem.

"She's probably one of the most influential people on Kim Jong Un himself, precisely because he has very few people he can trust", said Balbina Hwang, visiting professor at Georgetown University and founder of the National Committee on North Korea.

There's worry too that the proposed summit Pyongyang may come with preconditions - a North Korean specialty.

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"And so when you put it that way they're not really participating in the Olympics", said Warmbier, who is the personal guest of Vice President Mike Pence at the Games.

Many experts say Kim's overture is meant to use improved ties with Seoul as a way to weaken US -led global sanctions toughened after its series of big weapons tests previous year that include its sixth and largest nuclear test explosion and three intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

Pyongyang conducted its largest nuclear test a year ago and said it had developed a missile capable of carrying a warhead to the United States. Later, he skipped a formal dinner at which he was due to share a table with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam. He did not shake hands with Kim Yong Nam, they said.

The "North Korean players are holding our players back", said Anthony Jeon, 24, a law student.

But not everyone was applauding this rare display of unity.

The North Koreans - Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo jong - were also in the box, seated in a row behind Pence. He'd been dispatched from Washington for the Olympics in part, he said, to make sure the world didn't forget that North Korea was a misbehaving and unsafe neighbor in the community of nations. I just hope I represented my team mates well.

The event was hosted by South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon for North Korea's high-level delegation.

The Saturday night game was a setpiece for one of the largest unified Korean displays at the Olympics, with three North Korean players in uniform and more than 100 North Korean cheerleaders in the stands.

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