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North Korea hosts military parade on eve of South's Olympics

09 February, 2018, 04:57 | Author: Janis Wilson
  • North Korean cheering squads arrive at the Korean-transit office on their way to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Ahn Young-joon-Pool  Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, wearing a black coat and hat, appeared with his wife Ri Sol Ju, who wore a black robe.

When North Korean despot Kim Jong Un first announced his intent to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea and revealed an interest in dialogue with South Korea, Korea watchers were skeptical, quick to point out that the North was likely attempting to sow division between the US and South Korea.

On Friday, before he attends the Olympic opening ceremony, Pence will visit a memorial for 46 South Korean sailors killed in the 2010 sinking of a warship that Seoul blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack.

The U.N. Security Council, which has slapped sanctions on North Korea for its weapons programmes, imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Choe past year when he was vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department.

Tensions soared previous year as the North carried out multiple weapons tests, including intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the USA mainland, and by far its most powerful nuclear test to date.

Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said North Korea asked the South to supply fuel for the 9,700-ton Mangyongbong-92.

She was likely to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-In and give him a personal letter from her brother, expressing his hopes for a successful hosting of the Olympics and a desire to improve inter-Korean ties, he added.

In October, Kim Yo-jong was promoted to the party's politburo, an opaque, all-powerful decision-making body that decides top state affairs.

Like most of North Korea's key people, little is known about her.

The U.N. Security Council imposed a travel ban and asset freeze Choe on June 2 previous year when he was vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, which controls ideological messaging through the media, arts and culture.

A group of 280 North Koreans arrived in South Korea on February 7 to support athletes from the two sides at the Games.

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Abe added that the allies would urge other countries not to be "captivated by the charm offensive of North Korea".

"It is significant that the delegation also includes Kim Yo Jong, who is Chairman Kim Jong Un's sister and holds an important position in the Workers' Party of Korea".

Believed to be in her late 20s or early 30s, Kim Yo Jong is thought to be one of Kim Jong Un's closest confidants.

The U.N. committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea has proposed granting an exemption for Choe, who has been on the U.N. sanctions blacklist since June past year.

The Winter Olympics, which will take place just 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas, have triggered a rapid rapprochement on the peninsula, although analysts warn that warmer relations may not last long beyond the Games.

Seoul also announced that it would begin direct talks with Pyongyang.

The North Korean delegation will be headed by its ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam, 90, the president of the Supreme People's Assembly, and the most senior official to ever cross the border.

The easing of tensions that has come with détente between North and South Korea may hit a bump in the road on Thursday, when Pyongyang holds a large-scale military parade.

Kim provided a short televised address that included no mention of the Olympics but did call North Korea "world-class military power".

"The concert must be stopped", said Park Byung-seung, who had travelled from Seoul for the protest.

And Kim Jong-un's own family are not immune to the unpredictable nature of the leader.

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