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Seoul seeks communication, lower military tension ahead of possible North Korea summit

14 February 2018

Concerns surfaced over the possible discord between South Korea and the United States in its approach to North Korea as Pence, who came to South Korea on Thursday for the opening of the PyeongChang Olympics, increased USA pressure on Pyongyang by highlighting the brutality of the regime during his time here. But rather than presenting herself as a stiff party operative, she has looked engaged and interested during multiple outings in Seoul, Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

US Vice President Mike Pence's trip to South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has been called "a missed opportunity" by a senior diplomatic source close to North Korea.

Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong Un, "courteously" handed over a personal letter from the North Korean leader to Moon during talks on Saturday and also told Moon of her brother's "intention", KCNA said, without elaborating on what that was.

The delegation's most substantive event may come outside of the Olympic ambit on Saturday.

He didn't say what those conditions were, but he urged North Korea to open a dialogue with the United States, suggesting no diplomatic progress could be made without USA participation.

It was already known that Kim Yo Jong is an adviser to her brother; now many are interpreting her presence here - and the freedom with which she seems to behave - as new signs of the power she holds. "You can see it in Pence's face if nothing else", said Van Jackson, a former policy adviser to the U.S. secretary of defence.

"Others said they were horrified by the notion that Ms. Kim could lull South Koreans, or anyone else, into forgetting the North's repression and human rights abuses", the piece remarks in passing.

The troupe, cheered by dozens of fans as their bus pulled up under tight security before the game, have been dispatched south as part of a North Korean charm offensive after months of fiery rhetoric threatening nuclear war and provocative missile tests. Some South Koreans hope it is a symbol of a peaceful unification. Experts said it conveyed confidence, superiority and reflected a positive attitude.

Sunday's KCNA report cited Moon as saying inter-Korean relations should be mended by the parties concerned "at any cost as indicated by Chairman Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address".

"There were some issues that affected some of our non-critical systems last night for a few hours", said Sung, according to Reuters, before adding that authorities are working to figure out what exactly happened.

Critics also highlighted Kim Yo Jong's senior role in a regime accused by a United Nations inquiry of systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities. The parties have also reiterated their desire to boost cooperation and dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul. "Moon should be aware that he has to urge denuclearisation to North Korea by himself, not depending on dialogue between the US and North Korea", an editorial in the Yomiuri Newspaper read. "She has been thought of as royalty since she was born, and she sees herself that way as well".

If Moon accepts Kim's offer to come to the North, it will be the third summit meeting between the two Koreas.

That was not the case with Moon - either at the games, when he enthusiastically reached up to shake Kim Yo Jong's hand, or at the lunch the next day.

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.

Cheong Seong Chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, told NK News that Kim's concession sought to help Pyongyang in "escaping from a serious global isolation".

Seoul seeks communication, lower military tension ahead of possible North Korea summit