Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

North Korean cheerleaders stealing show at Winter Olympics

More than 200 young North Korean women have arrived in South Korea to root for athletes from both sides of the peninsula at the Winter Olympics North Korean cheerleaders stealing show at Winter Olympics
Patty Aguilar | 12 February, 2018, 03:17

The show of unity between the two Koreas reflects the recent change of atmosphere in cross-border relations, with the Moon Jae-in administration eagerly accommodating the North's participation in the Games. President Moon and I reflected on that last night. "There are many things similar and the same".

Tensions between the two soared previous year as Pyongyang tested missiles capable of reaching the US mainland and its most powerful nuclear device to date, while Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump traded personal insults and threats of war. After a photo together, each of the Koreans shook hands with the three men while Kim Jong Un's sister watched.

Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam are on an unprecedented visit to South Korea amid abrupt reconciliation mood between the rival Koreas for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have risen sharply over the a year ago, as Kim Jong Un has made rapid progress in his nuclear weapons program and has made clear the program is being developed with the American threat in mind.

Pence claimed there was no daylight between the USA and South Korea on the goal of North Korean denuclearization, without acknowledging that they disagree on the path toward that goal.

The future summit "is a very good gesture", said Kim Se Kyoung, the spectator. Moon would irritate Trump if he accepts the invitation, while declining would make the US and South Korea appear "unreasonably bellicose", he said.

US officials have been urging South Korea to be cautious in its rapprochement with the North. "And this signal helps the opponents of a military operation in Washington and elsewhere".

It was a raucous and historic night mixing sports and politics on an worldwide stage for a second straight night in this remote region of South Korea. "We can't say right now".

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The 28-year-old is a crucial part of the North's Games delegation led by Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state. So far, the South Korean President seems keen to take up his North Korean counterpart's offer, which comes as no surprise.

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The Joongang Ilbo, another leading daily, made the interesting point that Kim Yo-jong's visit is a sign of North Korean weakness, not the confidence that others have projected on it: "South Korea is North Korea's last resort".

"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear ballistic missile program", Pence said, adding that he was "encouraged" by his talks with the South Korean President. On Sunday in Seoul, several hundred protesters accused Moon of being too soft on the North.

Speaking to NBC's "Nightly News" on Thursday, the vice president continued to stress that the USA would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland". Some South Koreans hope it is a symbol of a peaceful unification. "As one unified team I hope we can go forward together".

Moon knows the risks. Meanwhile a joint hockey team and a cheerleading squad has generated warm feelings, at least at the Olympics.

"We are determined to make sure that even in the midst of the powerful background & idealism of the Olympics, the World is reminded of the truth about North Korea", Pence tweeted on Friday.

Washington insists that Pyongyang - which is under multiple sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions - must take concrete steps toward denuclearization before any negotiations can take place.

'It is absolutely necessary for the North and the United States to engage in talks at an early date, ' his spokesman said.

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.

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