North Korea Is Winning the Olympics Before They Even Start

Kim Sends Sister to Olympics as Pence Talks North Korea Sanctions

While North Korea isn't expected to bring home many medals from the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Kim Jong Un has already won more than he could've hoped.

Kim has been putting pressure on the U.S.-South Korean alliance by exploiting optimism in Seoul that joining the Olympics under one banner could foster peace talks. South Korean President Moon Jae-in granted another concession today, agreeing to meet a delegation from Pyongyang that could include Kim's sister.

The breakthrough came as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other world leaders head for tomorrow's opening ceremony. Pence hinted at a meeting, telling reporters in Japan, “there may be a possibility for any kind of an encounter with North Koreans, whether it be informal, or whether it takes the form of a meeting.” 

But any hopes that the diplomatic dance would lead to talks over Kim’s weapons program were tempered by shows of force. While Pence pledged that the U.S. would stop North Korea from threatening his homeland, Kim paraded mobile missile launchers through Pyongyang.

A television screen broadcasting a report on North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un is displayed onboard a shuttle bus for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

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— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter, Tony Czuczka, Andrew J Barden, and Karl Maier

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