North Korea judged victor of diplomatic gold at Olympics


The US and South Korea stand united against North Korea's nuclear program, even as the two Koreas hold talks in conjunction with the Winter Olympics, US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday.

Camera flashes; mobs of reporters: Through it all, Kim has maintained a placid smile - and despite Pence's stated intention to reinforce North Korea's isolation during his Olympic visit, the sister of the repressive regime's leader seems to have spent at least as much time with Moon as Pence did.

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 Kim's sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North.

South Korea's presidential office said after the meeting that the North Korean leader has invited Moon to visit his country and expressed willingness to improve inter-Korean ties in the letter.

"I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be odd and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same", said Kim Yo Jong in a toast during Sunday's dinner, adding she hoped to meet the "friendly faces" before her later in Pyongyang. "I thought things would be unusual and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar", Kim said at Sunday's dinner, according to Moon's office. "Here's to hoping that we could see the pleasant people (of the South) again in Pyeongchang and bring closer the future where we are one again".

Accepting North Korea's demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, South Korea treated the Mangyongbong-92 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in global sanctions.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence has insisted the United States, South Korea and Japan are in complete agreement over their strategy of isolating the North.

"Now is not the time to postpone U.S". The riverside facility is named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a war hero in the South for his battles against the North during the Korean War.

Kim's presence at the Olympics has presented people in South Korea and beyond with something new to know about North Korea.

The figure cut by Ms. Kim, with her warm smile and sharp business wardrobe, could hardly be more different.

South Korean officials said Moon had been 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. The U.S. -led global community has been tightening the screws on North Korea with sanctions created to punish its economy and rein in its efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile program, which now includes developmental long-range missiles targeting the U.S. mainland.

But the summit invitation offered a diplomatic opening that may prove too hard to resist for Moon, a liberal leader who took office in May promising to seek a peaceful resolution with the North.

Pence kept up the pressure in the days ahead of the Olympics, frequently denouncing the North's record of human rights abuses to counter what he called Pyongyang's "propaganda charade".

Others chanted 'Let's tear Kim Jong-un to death!' while tearing up a picture of the North Korean leader.

Mr. Han, however, is not convinced it means anything, saying what North Korea wants most is to reduce pain from worldwide sanctions.

Flying back to Washington after attending the opening ceremony, Mr Pence said: "There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile programme".

But analysts say it may be more hard for the South to arrange a summit with the North coming off a year in which Pyongyang test-fired dozens of missiles, including three ICBMs, and conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date.