Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Olympics: North Korean figure skaters finish on a high in pairs

Two Koreas hold top-level talks in Olympic rapprochement Two Koreas hold top-level talks in Olympic rapprochement
Patty Aguilar | 15 February, 2018, 21:56

South Korea says its president, Moon Jae In, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States, was offered a meeting with Kim in Pyongyang via his sister.

South Korea is stumping up more than $2.6 million to cover the costs of the North Korean delegation's visit to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Ms Kim appeared to charm South Korea's media with her near-permanent smile as she conducted a whirlwind round of diplomacy.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea between North and South.

But there have also been concerns that it has allowed North Korea to win a propaganda victory. While the U.S shows new openness to engaging with the regime, the administration has not changed its course of keeping the pressure on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The KCNA report suggested the North Korean leader wished to build on that rapprochement, saying he felt it "is important to continue making good results by further livening up the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue".

Skating to "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles, North Korea's figure skaters received huge cheers as they took to the ice at the Gangneung Ice Arena at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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She charmed her South Korean hosts despite skepticism about the North Korean leader's sincerity, fueling concerns among some analysts in both Washington and Seoul that the North-South thaw could drive a wedge between the two allies.

South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympics has sparked a sudden and rare moment of rapprochement across the demilitarised zone after months of sky-high tensions over Pyongyang's rapidly advancing nuclear weapons programme and bellicose missile tests. Necks craned and mobile phones were held aloft to catch a glimpse. He added that the president as said he "always believes in talking" but noted "there will be no reward for talks". -South Korean military exercises - a non-starter.

Another CNN personality, columnist Salena Zito, tweeted that she is "deeply saddened by how my profession has normalized and glamorized this murderous regime".

The two Koreas have never signed a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, and are in a constant state of mutual distrust.

Despite the relatively small sum allocated to North Korean athletes by the IOC, from its Olympic Solidarity fund, the organization was repeatedly criticized in the lead-up to the Games for supporting the athletes with travel, training and equipment, given tight United Nations sanctions against the North.

The 19-year-old Ryom and Kim, 25, are the only two of the 22 North Korean athletes at the Games in South Korea to meet Olympic qualifying standards - the rest got in on a special invitation as part of a landmark agreement that led to some calling this the "Peace Olympics".

Harris also noted that despite restarting dialogue with South Korea and collaborating in sports and cultural events at the Winter Olympics, North Korea continued its pursuit of nuclear weapons in the face of sanctions and global pressure.

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