VP Pence: US, South Korea, Japan Committed To Ending NK Threats

VP Pence: US, South Korea, Japan Committed To Ending NK Threats

In barely a month since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un surprised the world and said his nation was ready to join the Games, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has delayed military exercises, feted Mr. Kim's sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North. They were a huge hit.

Decked out in red tracksuits and woolly hats, North Korea's cheerleaders sang "uri nun, hana da" (we are one) and clapped in flawless unison as local hip hop artists rapped on a stage behind them and K-Pop blared over the loudspeakers in a stark clash of cultures.

They were at speedskating, too.

North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, a member of the delegation, was seen wiping away tears with his handkerchief and at times clapping enthusiastically during the show.

Local media in South Korea initially reported that the technical disruptions were caused by some sort of cyberattack, but Olympic Games spokesman Sung Baik-you said there is no such evidence of such activity, at least not yet.

North Korea's cheerleaders at the Winter Olympics.

Pence and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in agreed on a post-Olympics strategy during conversations at the Winter Olympics in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang that Pence dubbed "maximum pressure and engagement at the same time".

Last January, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted her along with six other North Korean officials for "severe human rights abuses" and censorship that concealed the regime's "inhumane and oppressive behaviour".

The senior diplomatic source said Pence "degraded the image of the United States as a superpower" by meeting with North Korean defectors along with Otto Warmbier's father, and by speaking strongly against North Korea on multiple occasions.


"The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the developments.

The visit of the delegation, which included North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong, intrigued many in South Korea, but also met scepticism about the North's sincerity and willingness to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. After the game, the entire group walked around to the Koreans' bench to greet them and pose for photos.

There, Kim Yo Jong signed the guest book, expressing hope that "Pyongyang and Seoul get closer in our people's hearts and move forward the future of prosperous unification".

And as the South appeared to look favorably on warming ties on the Korean Peninsula, Pence insisted Saturday "there is no daylight" among the United States and allies South Korea and Japan in intensifying pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

The North and South held summits in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, both hosted by Kim Jong Il.

South Korean officials have said Moon was invited to Pyongyang to speak with Kim Jong Un during the talks and lunch that Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Saturday.

"We've said for some time it's really up to the North Koreans to decide when they're ready to engage with us in a honest way, a meaningful way", Tillerson told reporters in Egypt.

At the opening ceremonies on Friday, Pence sat stone-faced in his seat as Moon and North Korean officials stood together with much of the stadium to applaud their joint team of athletes.

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure Kim Jung Un's government and the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

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