Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Queues, protests as North Korean orchestra performs in South

Queues, protests as North Korean orchestra performs in South

Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom also said Thursday the North Korean delegates will attend the games' opening ceremony on Friday evening.

North Korea is under multiple sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have seen it develop rockets capable of reaching the USA mainland.

Despite the North's expressed lack of interest in meeting with Pence, the New York Times reported on February 6 that while speaking to reporters in Alaska during a stopover on his way to Japan and South Korea, the vice president did not rule out contact with North Korean officials when he attends the Olympics, saying, "I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens".

"We have never begged for dialogue with the USA nor in the future, too", the North's KCNA news agency said, citing Jo Yong Sam, a director-general in the North's foreign ministry.

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Administration officials said they had long expected the North would seek to use the Olympics, taking place just 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the heavily mined Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas, as an opportunity to put a softer face on its regime, and painted Pence's visit as a counterbalance to those efforts.

Before departing for Korea, Pence announced that the USA would unveil in coming days "the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever".

"You can't have it that one person opens the door and another closes it", he said.

With less than two hours before the performance, North and South Korean officials wrestled over the play list, as some of its own songs had controversial lyrics.

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North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The South hosts 28,500 US troops, a legacy of the war.

However, North Korea also held a massive military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday, raising suspicions in the South over the sudden rapprochement, which follows a series of weapons tests.

Kim Jong Un saluted troops while his wife walked beside him, television images showed.

The North Korean 22-member Olympic delegation will be headed by Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of North Korea's Parliament, who serves as a nominal head of state.

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"We will have to wait and see exactly how that unfolds", he said.

Analysts said the parade seemed smaller than those of previous years, but was still focused on the North's goal of strengthening its nuclear missile capabilities. Later, military leaders said plans changed because of a security concern.

The 28-year-old sister of the North Korean leader will be the first member of the Kim family to cross the border into the South. Kim Yo Jong is a propaganda official blacklisted last year by the U.S. Treasury Department over alleged human rights abuses and censorship.

South Korea presented on Wednesday a request to the council's sanctions committee for an exemption to the travel ban imposed on Choe Hwi, chairman of North Korea's National Sports Guidance Committee.

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The band were expected to perform a mix of South Korean pop songs from the 1980s, as well as North Korean music.

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