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South Korea's chief invited to North Korea

12 February 2018

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure in her brother's government and the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The gesture sought to further exploit divisions between the US and South Korea, which differ on the best way to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

In dispatching the highest level of government officials the North has ever sent to the South, Kim Jong Un revealed a sense of urgency to break out of deep diplomatic isolation in the face of toughening sanctions over his nuclear program, analysts say. However, the statement made no mention of Mr Kim's invitation to Moon to a summit at his earliest convenience.

Vice President Mike Pence's communications director Jarrod Agen used a New York Times headline to highlight a distinct difference between North Korea and the United States on Sunday.

"Always stay healthy and please come and visit Pyongyang with President Moon", Kim Yo Jong told South Korea's First Lady Kim Jung-sook after the show ended.

Kim's proposal for a summit was "a brilliant diplomatic maneuver", said Andrei Lankov, a historian at Kookmin University in Seoul who once studied in Pyongyang. Moon would irritate Trump if he accepts the invitation, while declining would make the US and South Korea appear "unreasonably bellicose", he said. "And this signal helps the opponents of a military operation in Washington and elsewhere".

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South Korea's principal opposition party, the Liberty Korea Party, was not impressed.

Paek, a former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman, and his squad arrived in Gangneung, site of all hockey games during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Moon and Kim Yo Jong will have another opportunity to talk when they attend the second and final performance by a visiting North Korean orchestra on Sunday evening in Seoul, a Blue House official said.

A senior administration official aboard Pence's airplane also told reporters that South Korea and Japan "are solidly with our alliance and the need to continue and intensify economic sanctions". North Korea sits in an abyss of hopeless darkness, while South Korea glows like the unleashed lightning from freedom's torch.

But Kim Jong Un seems determined to try to divide the allies.

Any summit between the two still-officially warring Koreas would be a coup for Moon, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. "But what is more important than anything is that we are together". The South hosts 28,500 US troops, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.

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The team took to the ice for the first time on Saturday, losing to Switzerland but winning over the crowd as North Korean cheerleaders and South Korean fans roared the players on. Conservative groups have protested the appearance of North Korean athletes at the Games in Pyeongchang with vulgar signs.

Moon is eager to use Kim's presence at the games to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into nuclear talks.

After eight long years watching President Obama genuflect to foreign potentates, expressing deference to backward ideologies in apology for America's greatness, it's understandable "Asia experts" should view the Trump administration's actions regarding North Korea as "disrespectful".

North Korea's state media also sharply criticized Pence.

Accepting North Korea's demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, South Korea treated the Mangyongbong-92 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in worldwide sanctions. Last week, a commentary published by the Korean Central News Agency called denuclearization "a wild dream that can never come true". He is entertaining a North Korean offer to visit Pyongyang.

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