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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, August 15, 2018

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Mysterious North Korean spy to lead its Olympics delegation

Another sign that the North is making

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SEOUL, South Korea - In what many in South Korea are calling another sign that the North is making attempts to improve ties with the country - Pyongyang announced that a high-ranking official will lead its delegation.

However, the man named by North Korea to lead its delegation to Sunday’s Winter Olympics closing ceremony in the South is believed to have orchestrated a deadly attack in 2010.

North Korea said in its announcement that its delegation will be led by Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee. 

Further, South Korean officials added that the eight-member delegation will start a three-day trip on Sunday that will include attending the closing ceremony in Pyeongchang.

The trip by the alleged spymaster comes days after the sister of North Korean leader, Kim Yo-jong visited South Korea to attend the Games’ opening ceremony.

During this high-profile meeting, Kim Jong Un’s sister met with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and invited him to a summit meeting in the North on behalf of her brother.

While the two Koreas continue to work towards establishing peace on the Korean peninsula - ties between Washington and Pyongyang continue to remain problematic.

Earlier this month, while visiting South Korea to attend the Games’ opening ceremony, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was revealed to have planned to sit down meeting with Kim Yo-jong.

According to reports, the meeting was arranged by South Korea - however, Pence’s office confirmed on Wednesday that the North Koreans backed out at the last minute, apparently due to new economic sanctions announced by Pence.

Now, the U.S. has announced that Sunday’s closing ceremony will be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.

She will lead the American delegation and U.S. officials clarified at the ousted that Ivanka Trump had no plans to meet anyone representing the North.

On Thursday, reports noted that Kim Yong-chol, who is a former head of the North’s main intelligence agency, now leads a Workers’ Party department in charge of relations with South Korea. 

According to reports, he was widely believed to have helped engineer the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in 2010, which killed 46 sailors. 

He had been banned from visiting the South for his alleged involvement in the North’s military provocations and nuclear weapons development.

However, on Thursday, the South Korean government said that it would allow Kim Jong-chol to lead the delegation across the border.

The Unification Ministry, a South Korean government agency, said in a statement, “We expect the high-level delegation’s participation in the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to help advance the process of settling peace on the Korean Peninsula including the improvement of inter-Korean relations and denuclearization. Against this backdrop, from this standpoint, we will accept the visit of North Korea’s high-level delegation to the South.”

 

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