North Korea's over-the-top cheerleaders cause a stir in Pyeongchang


In a surprise move, North Korea - which once tried to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul by blowing up a South Korean airliner - has extended an olive branch by offering to participate in the Games.

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.

South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit meeting in the North.

Moon, South Korea's first liberal leader in a decade, has walked a fine line with the ramping up his North Korean diplomatic entreaties, managing to finagle out of the USA a postponement of annual military exercises that helped create the atmosphere for Saturday's meeting.

The spokesman said Moon did not immediately agree to a meeting, adding that the two countries should continue to work on creating a political atmosphere that would make such a meeting feasible.

In an attempt to head off these concerns, Pence was quoted as he departed South Korea on Saturday as saying that Washington, Seoul and Tokyo remained in complete agreement on isolating the North over its nuclear weapons program. This was met with global sanctions as well as a flurry of insults between President Donald Trump and North Korean state media.

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programme previous year and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.

The handwritten invitation was delivered by Mr Kim's influential sister, Kim Yo-jong, at a landmark meeting in the presidential palace in Seoul, as the Winter Olympics opened.

Han said she has never met North Koreans but that she has no intention of hanging around any places in Gangneung or Pyeongchang to try to see any of the North Korean Olympic delegation.

"I understand what Prime Minister Abe said is not to delay South Korea-U.S. military drills until there is progress in the denuclearization of North Korea".

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A giant dove of peace lit up the night sky, famous South Korean singers sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and, most significantly of all, athletes from North and South Korea walked in unison for the first time in 11 years. Pence also attended the Games opening ceremony but had no contact with the North Korean delegation. He took with him the parents of Otto Warmbier, the university student who died late a year ago after suffering horrific injuries while in North Korean detention, and promised more sanctions against Pyongyang.

On bilateral relations, Tokyo and Seoul have recently been at odds after the Moon administration announced in January its new policy on the comfort women deal, which was signed under his predecessor Park Geun Hye. "It raises expectations for success [and] makes the North Koreans look like they are driving cooperation, but puts pressure on Seoul to show more flexibility than Washington is likely comfortable with".

This is in line with Moon's hopes that the inter-Korean detente could lead to broader negotiations on the core challenges facing the Korean Peninsula.

"The grievances that the world has about North Korea are very legitimate".

The report from the North Korean news website also happily explained their country's involvement in some of the entertainment of the opening ceremony.

Her arrival on Kim Jong Un's private jet with a coterie of 22 officials was broadcast live on South Korean television.

"The North Koreans should understand that for a summit or any kind of serious talks to occur, Moon needs to be able to take something to Washington - something that addresses denuclearisation", he said before the North's invitation to Moon was announced.

It was in keeping with his determined effort to turn a cold shoulder to what he's called North Korea's "propaganda" around the games in South Korea.

The vice president said that, while they were at the speedskating event, Moon talked about his meeting with the North Koreans earlier in the day.

Pence had arrived in South Korea for the opening of the Olympics with a clear intention to isolate North Korea.