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giftedviz.com May 25, 2018


Could a North Korean athlete defect to South Korea during the Olympics?

12 February 2018, 12:30 | Megan Pierce

Could a North Korean athlete defect to South Korea during the Olympics?

Members of the North Korea cheering group gather before a welcoming ceremony inside the Gangneung Olympic Village before the 2018 Winter Olympics

They are fielding a joint women's ice hockey team.

A young performer participates in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

Vice President Mike Pence did not deliberately snub North Koreans at an Olympic reception, according to USA officials who pushed back on South Korean reports that Pence deliberately came late to a VIP gathering Friday evening and then snubbed officials from Pyongyang. The Swiss won 8-0. Forays into Switzerland's end prompted breathless shouts and the rare Korean attacks on goal were cause for celebration. "She is the person he trusts more than anyone else in the regime", said Ken Gause, North Korean leadership expert. The sight of North and South Koreans marching together for the first time in a decade was the culmination of months of work by Seoul.

Pence was in close proximity to the North Korean party both at the VIP reception and later, watching the Opening Ceremony from Moon's box, which included Kim Yong Nam and leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong.

What does it all mean?

Prior to the opening ceremony on Friday night, Pence arrived late to a dinner reception between the two Koreas and greeted everyone at a main table except for Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state, Reuters reports.

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Unification, too, isn't quite as clear-cut an issue as it might appear on the flag this Korean team is using (a white background with a rendering of an undivided peninsula in blue). "That's the team he's going to be cheering for all Olympics".

"She's probably one of the most influential people on Kim Jong Un himself, precisely because he has very few people he can trust", said Balbina Hwang, visiting professor at Georgetown University and founder of the National Committee on North Korea.

But as North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim's brother has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power, operating Nazi-style prison camps, repressing political opposition and even executing senior officers and his own family members in an effort to consolidate power. The Koreas are technically still at war, as a truce - and not a peace treaty - ended combat between the countries in 1953.

Pyeongchang, alas, is a very small place.

The ex-North Korean officer says members of the delegation will also be expected to inform on each other. The meeting would be followed by a lunch hosted by the South Korean president.

"We try not to add more stress than there needs to be", Murray said. After the game Saturday, the team stood on the ice as Moon, Kim Yo Jong, IOC president Thomas Bach and other government officials perched on the bench for a short meeting.



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