Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Korean leader's younger sister to visit S. Korea for Olympics

Pyeongchang Security workers patrol the Alpensia resort at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea Friday Feb. 2 2018
Melinda Barton | 08 February, 2018, 10:39

The opening of the Games will also be attended by Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's ceremonial head of state, with whom it is speculated that Pence could interact, in line with bilateral meets planned by Seoul with the senior official from Pyongyang.

The delegation, led by Sports Minister Kim Il Guk, consists of four officials from the National Olympic Committee, 229 cheerleaders, 26 taekwondo performers and 21 journalists.

Kim Yo Jong - promoted by her brother past year to the ruling party's political wing - would be the Kim's dynasty's first official representative to set foot in the south. It will also be the first time that North and South Korean athletes compete on a team (women's ice hockey) together since 1991.

The decision, which was complicated by the fact that she has been blacklisted by the United States, came as Vice President Mike Pence announced plans to unveil the "toughest and most aggressive" sanctions against the North in coming days.

Before departing for South Korea, he announced the US would unveil in the coming days "the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever".

North Korea's high-level delegation for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has no willingness to meet with its USA counterpart when it travels to South Korea this week, the North's state media said Thursday.

"We hope that the Winter Olympics may go some way in encouraging North Korea into dialogue, to get them back to the negotiating table", Ms Bishop said.

But her participation has raised diplomatic issues as Kim Yo-jong was blacklisted previous year by the US Treasury Department over human rights abuses and censorship.

After addressing the troops, Pence will fly to South Korea to attend Friday's opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. North Korea can have a better future than the militaristic path, the path of provocation and confrontation that it's on.

She was seen in state media on Tuesday greeting a North Korean art troupe that has since departed for the South to stage performances during the Olympics.

On a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea, Mr Pence is seeking to reassure and refocus American allies on the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.

Washington has been stepping up its anti-Pyongyang rhetoric while North Korea has been trying to use the Olympics as an opportunity to ease tensions with South Korea.

But even if the Trump administration is considering talks with the North Korean delegation, it doesn't mean that the tense standoff over North Korea's nuclear program is going to dissipate anytime soon.