Olympics: North Korean orchestra serenades South Koreans amid protest

Pauline Gross
February 9, 2018

North Korea informed the South on Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un's sister, an increasingly prominent figure in the country's leadership, will be part of a high-level government delegation traveling for the Olympics.

Pence did not rule out a possible meeting with North Korean officials, telling reporters, "we'll see what happens".

Tensions between the two sides could flare again soon after the Olympics when the US and South Korea are expected to restart their joint military drills, which the North wants canceled.

Tensions soared a year ago as the North carried out multiple weapons tests, including intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States mainland, and by far its most powerful nuclear test to date.

As Vice President Pence began his two-stop Asia trip on Wednesday, he highlighted America's ties with longtime USA allies in the region, Japan and South Korea.

North Korea has sent hundreds of people to the Olympics in the South, including officials, athletes, artists, journalists and a 230-member cheering group.

That's right. A nation that has the worst human rights record on the planet that nearly took Northeast Asia to the brink of war a year ago will walk into the opening ceremonies with its brethren from the south under a joint flag.

Pence traveled to South Korea to lead the US delegation to Friday's opening ceremonies, but has used his trip to participate in symbolic events meant to shine a spotlight on North Korea's nuclear program and human rights abuses. To that end he has invited the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died a year ago after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, to join the Olympic delegation.

Rather, once the games are over, the North will likely use the current diplomatic opening to probe in other areas unrelated to its nuclear program, which, in turn, will raise a set of trying and familiar issues for the U.S.

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"North Korea doesn't just persecute Christians - it executes them".

Kim Jong Un was expected to parade his latest military hardware through the North Korean capital Thursday, underscoring the danger that will remain after the Olympic displays of good will are over.

North Korean artists and musicians will also perform during the games at venues in the Pyeongchang region and in Seoul.

"It shows the North's resolve to defuse tension on the Korean peninsula", Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing. Moon has said he wants to build upon the Olympic outreach to restart talks with the U.S.to eventually halt North Koreas' nuclear development program in exchange for economic assistance and security guarantees.

More broadly, Kim is seeking to normalize the North's status as a wannabe, self-identified nuclear power in the eyes of the world.

Pyongyang's annual parade, marking the founding of its armed forces, has been held in April for 40 years.

North Korean parades are often used by intelligence analysts to analyse the weapons technology the country has, however as this parade is closely guarded, it seems the experts won't get a glimpse this time round.

"We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games", he said. Yet the event has unexpectedly caused problems between the host country and another nation before it has even begun - as Iran summoned Seoul's envoy in Tehran on Thursday in a dispute over smartphones and sanctions.

Other reports by GizPress

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