For the first time since the Korean War on of the members of North Korea’s ruling family arrived in South Korea. Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, arrived in PyeongChang for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics as part of the special envoy.
The arrival was broadcast live on South Korean television, although for security reasons her itinerary remains a mystery.
This unprecedented visit comes only a day after Kim Jong-Un presided over an extravagant military parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square on Thursday on the eve of the Olympics to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army. The parade had been anticipated for weeks after satellite imagery revealed that preparations were underway.
Kim Jong-Un turned his rhetoric against Washington. Speaking before thousands of troops and civilians he highlighted that this parade marked North Korea’s emergence as a “global military power”, in spite of the sanctions imposed by the international community. He called for his military to maintain a high level of combat readiness against the United States and its followers to keep them from infringing upon “the republic’s sacred dignity and autonomy even by 0.001 millimeters.”
Instead of emphasizing the military parade, South Korea instead focused on groups of North Korean musicians practicing for congratulatory concerts during the games, and a welcoming ceremony for the North’s competitors at the athletes’ village so as to overcome the unease created.
US Vice-President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea on Thursday vowing to send a strong message to the North that it must abandon its nuclear weapons. However, his message was not very well received by many South Koreans who believe that the inter-Korean rapprochement of the last month is a positive step forward, recognizing that it is not a solution yet, and seemed to react negatively to the US meddling.