Friday, 19 October, 2018

Pence: US, Allies to 'Intensify' Campaign to End North Korea's Nuclear Program

Ella Tate | 11 February, 2018, 05:34

The Korean women's hockey team, the first in Olympic history to combine players from North and South, was routed 8-0 by Switzerland on Saturday night in its debut game, outshot 52-8 in a matchup that could have been far worse if not for the goaltending of Shin So Jung. The squad is the centrepiece of the South Korean president Moon Jae-in's push to brand the games as the "peace Olympics" and his goal of increasing exchanges between the two neighbours - technically still in conflict since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.

Moon provided Pence with a readout of the historic luncheon between the North and South.

After the meeting, South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Kim Yo Jong had delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un, inviting Moon to Pyongyang "soon" for talks.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to meet with him in the North for a summit, Moon's spokesman said Saturday morning.

"Working in unity on the way to unification", Kim Yong Nam wrote in the guest book.

Kim Yo Jong is a key advisor to her brother. "I'm happy I can see that wish come true, even if it's just for a hockey game".

And so, with a little help from a liberal South Korean president eager to engage Pyongyang, the 2018 Pyeongchang Games open. The other objective for Pence's appearance was to see Moon for a final time, forging one more photo op of the two, in light of the events of the day. In addition to sending 22 athletes to compete at the games in Pyeongchang, North Korea also deployed a 229-strong all-female cheering squad to root for both nations.

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"You went through a lot of trouble braving the cold until late" last night, Moon told the North Koreans, referring to their attendance at the frigid Opening Ceremony.

The Winter Olympics still managed to dominate Friday's ratings although fans could read about the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony for hours before NBC shared the footage. Pence did not attend the hockey game. South Korean television showed its smiling president entering a reception room Saturday and shaking hands with the North Koreans. But Pence's time sidestepping the North Koreans at the Olympics was punctuated by awkward, stoic photos and no-shows. A senior White House official described Pence's tact as ignoring the North Koreans, but not avoiding them. Pence was "there to stand with Japan and South Korea", the official added when pressed on whether the vice president had intentionally dodged photo ops with Kim Yong Un's delegation. South Korea was already the lowest-ranked team before the addition of 12 less experienced players from North Korea, and only qualified as the hosts. The pressure campaign is not only going to continue, it's going to intensify until they denuclearize and that all options are on the table. I assume they knew that message was coming.

They do so with as much focus on the North, which has zero real medal contenders, as the South, which in the three decades since its last Olympics has built a solid winter program as it went from economic backwater and military dictatorship to Asia's fourth-biggest economy and a bulwark of liberal democracy.

It was a raucous and historic night mixing sports and politics on an global stage for a second straight night in this remote region of South Korea.

North Korean media slammed Pence what they described as "snobbish" behavior.

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.

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