Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

North Korea Holds Military Parade on Eve of Olympics Opening Ceremony

Mike Pence addresses the media before a briefing on missile defense with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Gen. Lori J. Robinson Commander United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command at Joint Base Elemen US to impose 'toughest ever' sanctions on North Korea, Pence warns
Melinda Barton | 09 February, 2018, 04:52

More recently, Trump has softened his approach, telling South Korean President Moon Jae-in on a recent phone call of "his openness to holding talks between the USA and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances", according to the White House.

Pence told reporters en route to Tokyo that the goal of his trip was to "make sure that North Korea doesn't use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime".

Almost 300 North Koreans crossed the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries on Wednesday to participate in the Olympics, including 229 women that were part of a large "cheering squad", The Washington Post reported.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who described North Korea as the world's most tyrannical regime on Wednesday, flies in to South Korea on Thursday ahead of the opening ceremony in the mountain resort of Pyeongchang, just 80 km (50 miles) from the heavily armed border with North Korea.

USA officials declined to provide details of the expected sanctions beyond Pence's comments, citing concerns that any additional information could be used by those trying to skirt the new measures.

But privately, officials said Pence expressed concern to Moon about his more conciliatory tone toward North Korea.

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attends the opening ceremony of a residential complex. "President (Donald) Trump has said he always believes in talking".

Known as one of the most powerful figures in the North after Kim Jong-un, she plans to meet with President Moon Jae-in on Saturday. The North Korean delegates also including national Olympic officials, journalists and members of a taekwondo demonstration team.

Speaking after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on his way to South Korea, Pence said Washington would soon unveil "the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever". But he pledged that his message in any potential interaction would include the same message he has been delivering publicly: that the North renounce its nuclear weapon and missile programs. Kim works on North Korean propaganda and helps maintain her brother's image while handling the logistics of his travel, according to multiple reports. Pence also said the "era of strategic patience is over". "But with Kim Yo Jong, you are getting a person who's chiefly involved in designing Kim Jong Un's rule, a person whom the leader actually listens to".

"It shows the North's resolve to defuse tension on the Korean Peninsula", Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing. She and Kim Jong Un were born to the same mother, Ko Yong Hui. They had a half brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was murdered previous year at a Malaysian airport.

North Korea has 22 athletes competing in the Winter Olympics but also has sent performing artists and a large cheering group.

"We have never begged for dialogue with the United States and it will be the same going forward", KCNA reported on Thursday, citing Cho Yong Sam, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry.

But the January 31 trip wasn't official until less than two hours before the chartered Asiana Airlines flight carrying the South Korean skiers took off for the North's Kalma Airport. While the artists left the ferry Wednesday for a rehearsal in Gangneung, the ship's 96 crewmembers and attendants stayed aboard, Baik said.