Almost as if North Korea is determined to see just how far they can push things and still receive glowing praise from American media, the country has now announced it will be sending a war criminal to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. In a stunning display of both arrogance and disrespect to the games host country, the reclusive nation has informed the world that Kim Yong Chol will lead an eight-member delegation attending the ceremony. Kim Yong Chol being infamous in South Korea as the man held responsible for masterminding the 2010 sinking of a Navy ship that left over 45 sailors dead.
Kim Yong Chol currently serves as the Vice-Chairman of the ruling Worker’s Party Central Committee, but more importantly is the one time Chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s primary spy agency, and intelligence branch. During this period he is widely suspected of ordering a North Korean submarine to torpedo the ROKS Cheonan, leaving close to 50 South Korean military personnel dead and far more injured. South Korea also paints Kim as the chief architect behind the horrific artillery strike on Yeonpyeong Island later that same year which left another four dead. As if that wasn’t enough captured spies confirmed Kim was behind a failed plot to assassinate a high ranking defector as well, and there is even reason to believe he had a hand in the 2015 landmine blast at the border which left another two South Korean soldiers severely injured.
Now however in the name of diplomacy, South Koreans will be forced to watch their leader shake hands and officially greet this man who ordered the deaths of so many of their own people. The meeting will also represent a stunning policy reversal for both South Korea and America as well. As previously both countries had blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for his role in the sinking of the Cheonan, along with his open support for the North’s highly controversial nuclear program. Now in an act of submission based on trying to do what is best for “the good of the Games,” the South will once again bend to the whims of this despotic regime and hand them yet another propaganda victory.
America will also now once again find themselves in an awkward position. With only weeks after Mike Pence was seated just a few feet away from Kim Jong Un’s sister, the President’s daughter Ivanka who is also making the trip down to the closing ceremony will likely find herself equally close to this North Korean murderer. While the White House has stated Ivanka has no formal plans to meet with the North Korean delegation at this time; it’s hard to know what to expect when it comes to the erratic North Koreans. Especially when consider that the Vice President had been set to meet with them at the opening ceremonies, only to have the meeting suddenly canceled last minute for no apparent reason.
While the effort to embrace the cooperation based spirit of the Olympics is commendable, in the long run, the consequences incurred as a result of bending over to North Korean desires will likely outweigh any potential positives. In fact in the South, opposition leaders have already started to express outrage at the money spent on Kim Yo Jong’s entourage last week. With additional tax dollars planned to be spent here soon, this time hosting someone with even more direct South Korean blood on his hands, it’s increasingly hard to picture just what exactly the country is gaining from all this. The same of course can be asked of the United States, where sadly all it took were a few cheerleaders to make our news media seemingly forget all about decades worth of death camps and other human rights violations.
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