PyeOongchang (February 12, 2018): South Korea, North Korea has emerged as the early favourite to grab one of the Winter Olympics’ most important medals: the diplomatic gold.
That is the assessment of a former South Korean government minister and political experts who say the North has used the Games to drive a wedge between South Korea and its U.S. ally and to potentially ease pressure on its sanctions-crippled state.In barely a month since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un surprised the world and said his nation was ready to join the Games, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has delayed military exercises, feted Kim’s sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North.
“North Korea clearly appears to be winning the gold,” said Kim Sung-han, who served as Korea’s vice foreign minister in 2012-2013 and who now teaches at Seoul’s Korea University.“Its delegation and athletes are getting all the spotlight, and Kim Jong Un’s sister is showing elegant smiles before the South Korean public and the world. Even for a moment, it appears to be a normal state.”
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who attended Friday’s opening ceremony along with the North Koreans, said “no daylight” existed between the United States, South Korea and Japan on the need to isolate North Korea.He said the North was using the Games for crude propaganda.