N Korea general, Ivanka Trump to attend Olympics closing

SEOUL: North Korea will send a high-level delegation to South Korea for the Winter Olympics closing ceremony, officials said on Thursday, including the man blamed for the 2010 sinking of a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 sailors. The latest visit by officials from the normally reclusive North will coincide with a visit by a US delegation led by President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.
The North Korean delegation will be led by Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, and will stay for three days from Sunday, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said in a statement.
Kim also heads the United Front Department, the North Korean office responsible for handling inter-Korean affairs.
He was previously chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a top North Korean military intelligence agency, which South Korea blamed for the deadly 2010 sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy corvette.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon said the torpedo attack on the boat was carried by the North but the government had not been able to confirm exactly who was responsible.
North Korea denied having anything to do with the sinking.
“Kim is in charge of South Korea affairs, which is why we’re accepting him as we believe it would help improve inter-Korean relations and resolve the matter of denuclearisation”, Cho told parliament.
The Winter Olympics in South Korea have given a big boost to engagement between the two Koreas after more than a year of sharply rising tension over the North’s missile tests and its sixth and largest nuclear test in defiance of UN sanctions.
Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, led a three-day visit to the opening of the Olympics and the North Korean leader later said he wanted to boost a “warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue”.
Kim Yo Jong and the North’s nominal head of state were the most senior North Korean officials to visit the South in more than a decade.
The sister was the centre of a frenzy of international attention, especially when she appeared at the opening ceremony and stood only a few feet from US Vice-President Mike Pence.
She will not be part of the delegation coming to the closing of the Games.
The United States and South Korea have blacklisted the delegation leader, old military stalwart Kim Yong Chol, for supporting the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.
However, South Korea had decided to accept the delegation for the good of the Games, a presidential official in Seoul said on condition of anonymity.
The official said South Korea had informed the United States of the visit and they were in talks about Kim Yong Chol’s entry into the South.
 — Reuters