Real Games With North Korea After Olympics

Frederick Owens
February 12, 2018

Pence has meant to use his trip to the Olympics to caution the South against "falling for" the North's overtures, which in the past have been used as stall tactics to allow for continued development of its nuclear program.

She is part of an official North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and she attended the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday.

All broke out in broad smiles.

This diplomatic spectacle started off with a big bang, a historic handshake between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam, at a welcoming reception.

On his way to Asia earlier this week, the USA vice president told reporters he was not seeking direct talks with North Korean officials, "but we'll see what happens".

Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News' Lester Holt this week that the "going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically, while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens".

Moon has also dismissed a call by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to quickly resume the U.S.

But the rapprochement pushed by the dovish Moon has angered conservatives who accuse him of being a North Korea sympathiser. There was another handshake.

In Pyeongchang, though, the two Koreas avoided talk of sanctions and basked instead in Olympic goodwill, which was nowhere more evident than on Saturday night when a joint Korean women's ice hockey team took to the ice.

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Asked about criticism that Pence stood and cheered only for Team USA and stayed seated when the North and South Koreans marched in under a unified flag, the official was unapologetic.

"It is absolutely necessary for the North and the United States to engage in talks at an early date", he cited Moon as saying. The dignitary is the vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury, which added her name to the Specially Designated Nationals List in January 2017.

Just weeks ago, the region was on the verge of a nuclear war, pitting South Korea and the United States on one side against the North.

Officials told me this nuance was important.

Moon's office says the North Korean delegates were served traditional food from the Gangwon province, a mountainous coastal area that's home to the Olympic towns of Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

It said the two sides held "a comprehensive discussion. on the inter-Korean relations and various issues on the Korean peninsula in an amicable atmosphere", but did not say whether the North's weapons programme was mentioned.

The Korean women's hockey team will hope to bounce back game against Sweden in their second game of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Monday.

North Korean cheerleaders let rip in support for Choe Un Song but he was eliminated in the heats for the 1,500m short-track speed skating, failing to reach the semi-finals.

The North's presence has dominated the headlines in the early days of the Olympics, with all eyes turning to Swiss-educated Kim Yo-jong, believed to be 30, who is among her brother's closest confidantes.

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