Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

United States prepares 'hardest' sanctions for North Korea

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics United States prepares 'hardest' sanctions for North Korea
Melinda Barton | 09 February, 2018, 01:54

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency cited parliamentary sources in reporting Monday on the North's suspected involvement in the January 26 heist, in which hackers made off with 58 billion yen ($526 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM from Japan's Coincheck. Surrounded by a heavy police presence, they tore and burned drawings of Kim Jong Un and the North Korean flag.

Pence, who is leading the USA delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea later this week, says to Abe that aside from which group of athletes they will be cheering for at the games, "I expect we'll be agreeing on just about everything else".

South Korea's pairs figure skater Kim Kyu-eun has prepared a set of cosmetics as a birthday present for her North Korean counterpart Ryom Tae-ok. North Korea is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

A 229-member strong, all-female cheering section arrived from North Korea on Wednesday for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. She was promoted last October to first vice-director of the powerful Organization and Guidance Department.

North Korea has sent 22 athletes to the Olympics.

Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that Washington would soon announce new, tough sanctions to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, calling it the planet's "most tyrannical and oppressive regime".

The U.N. Security Council imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Choe on June 2 past year when he was vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, which controls ideological messaging through the media, arts and culture.

Kim Jong-Il fathered both Kim Jong-Un and Kim Yo-Jong with his third partner, former dancer Ko Yong-Hui.

Kim Yo Jong was promoted by her brother past year to be an alternate member of the decision-making political bureau of the ruling party's central committee, which analysts said showed that her activities are more substantive than previously thought.

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

He said the United States will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever. As his guest at the opening ceremony, he is taking the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died past year after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months.

The trip comes after President Donald Trump hosted a group of North Korean defectors in the Oval Office on Friday, including Ji Seong-ho, whom the president referenced in his State of the Union address last week. The South Korean leader has long advocated engagement with Pyongyang and sees the Olympics as an opportunity to quell tensions that have escalated over its nuclear program.

But Pyongyang on Thursday - a day before the Olympics' opening ceremony - plans to charge ahead with a massive military parade featuring thousands of goose-stepping soldiers and various types of missiles, tanks and other military weapons. At the Four Continents last month, however, the South Korean team withdrew due to a shoulder injury suffered by Kam.