'Protocol headache' for SK Winter Olympics

Saul Bowman
February 10, 2018

Friday's VIP seating arrangements are seen as a "protocol headache" for the South Korean hosts, who have been pushing for the Games in Pyeongchang to be known as a "peace Olympics".

Nuclear-armed North Korea is on an Olympics-linked charm offensive - sending a troupe of performers, hundreds of female cheerleaders and the sister of leader Kim Jong-un to South Korea, but regiments of soldiers goose-stepped in formation through Kim Il-sung Square yesterday, followed by increasingly heavy weapons.

North Korea held a massive military parade in April a year ago to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of the nation's founding president, Kim Il-sung.

North Korea's nominal head of state and senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, is expected to join her.

The North Korean parade comes as talk of a similar demonstration in the U.S.is heating up.

On Friday, before he attends the Olympic opening ceremony, Pence will visit a memorial for 46 South Korean sailors killed in 2010 in the sinking of a warship that Seoul blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack. A livestream of the parade was also not available this time, while foreign journalists were not invited as in previous years.

South Korea insisted Thursday that any breaking of United Nations sanctions in order to host North Korean officials for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will only be "temporary".

In a further sign of rapprochement, a spokesman for the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, said he would meet and have lunch with the North Korean delegates on Saturday.

Yong-nam is the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea.

The North often boasts of its parades but reports of this surfaced afterwards with TV only airing delayed footage.

While South Korea prepared to welcome Kim Yo Jong, Vice President Mike Pence said in Japan that the U.S.is preparing to announce the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions against North Korea, boosting pressure on its government during the Olympics.

Others waved a distorted image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un photoshopped to resemble a demonic boar. The global sanctions could bar Olympic organizers and sponsors from providing North Korean athletes with certain perks that hundreds of other Olympians will receive.

Pence says an estimated 100,000 North Korean citizens labor in modern-day gulags, and that those who dare raise their voices in dissent are imprisoned, tortured and even murdered. However, that hasn't deterred Seoul's citizens from taking many precautions against a catastrophic attack by North Korea, whether nuclear or otherwise.

Winter Olympic athletes from North Korea and Iran are now allowed to receive top of the line smartphones originally only bestowed to the rest of competitors, Reuters reported Thursday.

Pence shied away from public criticism of Moon when they met Thursday evening, congratulating South Korea on hosting the games and pledging continued support in addressing the North's nuclear threat.

Hear coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Games daily on 820 WBAP.

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