Vice President Pence on Wednesday urged the international community not to forget North Korea’s checkered history as the hermit nation prepares to march at this week’s opening ceremony under South Korea’s banner.
Pence’s comments came as North Korea confirmed that the sister of Kim Jong Un will be part of the regime’s official delegation to Friday’s opening ceremony. The inclusion of Kim Yo Jong as part of the North Korean delegation marks the first official visit to South Korea by a member of the ruling Kim family
The vice president during comments to reporters in Japan dismissed North Korea’s participation in the games as an empty gesture.
“We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games,” Pence said. “We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region.”
Pence, who will lead the U.S. delegation for Friday’s opening ceremony, has invited the father of Otto Warmbier to join the U.S. delegation — a move by the Trump administration to try to blunt North Korea’s charm offensive.
The younger Warmbier was arrested by North Korea in 2016 while visiting the country for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster. Warmbier, of Ohio, was freed in June 2017 shortly after North Korean officials announced he was suffering medical problems and fallen into a coma. He died soon after being returned to the U.S.
Pence noted that North Korea and South Korea have marched under the same banner before only to see “North Korea continue its pursuit of threats and provocation.”
“In fact, North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon only eight months after the conclusion of the 2006 Winter Olympics,” Pence said.
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