TheDC Newsroom: Winter Olympics Are Heating Up

TheDC Newsroom: Winter Olympics Are Heating Up

The high-level North Korean delegation, headed by Kim Yong Nam, the North's ceremonial head of state, will arrive in South Korea on Friday on a special plane to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics later in the day.

Such a meeting would be the first such event between a South Korean head of state and a member of the Kim family since a 2007 summit meeting of Kim Jong Il and late South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a military parade yesterday, a day before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and declared that the North is a "world-class military power".

South Korea's United Nations mission told the Security Council committee the delegation was expected to attend the opening ceremonies on Friday and stay until Sunday.

"We will continue to intensify our maximum pressure campaign until North Korea takes concrete steps toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization", Pence said. North Korea held a massive military parade highlighted by intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Pence will meet Friday morning with North Korean defectors as he pays respects at the Cheonan Memorial in Seoul, which honors 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 boat sinking attributed to the North.

"We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games", the vice president continued.

9 of 9 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in black, attends a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 8, 2018.

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"We have never begged for dialogue with the USA nor in the future, too", the North's KCNA news agency quoted him as saying.

"By sending key figures like his sister, Kim Jong Un is aiming to send a signal to the South that it is giving more weight to inter-Korean ties while driving a wedge between South Korea and the United States", said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister.

"We are not going to use such a sports festival as the Winter Olympics as a political lever", the official reportedly said.

Before meeting Moon, Pence said he would seek a South Korean commitment to "continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically so that we can achieve what the world has longed to see, which is a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula".

Pence told reporters that part of the goal of his visit was to tell "the truth about North Korea at every stop".

Both sides are hoping to use participation by the North in the games to ease tensions that have been exceptionally high over the past year amid North Korea's stepped-up missile launches and nuclear weapons' development.

"Explicitly speaking, we have no intention to meet with the USA side during the stay in South Korea. We will have to wait and see exactly how that unfolds", he said.