Vice President Pence is heading to South Korea, where — in addition to representing the U.S. at the Olympics — he plans to counter North Korea’s media messaging and push allies to maintain pressure on the rogue nation, according to multiple reports.
As NPR’s Elise Hu reports, the VPs aides have said that he wants to use the time in Korea to remind the world that just because North Korea will have a visually appealing cheering squad and an impressive figure skating duo, the regime running the country is brutal and totalitarian.
“One obvious sign of that is going to be who Vice President Pence is with,” Elise says. He’s expected to attend the opening ceremony with the father of deceased American college student Otto Warmbier, who died after being imprisoned in North Korea. That’s going to be a public reminder of that secrecy and brutality— at the same time that North Korean dignitaries will be in the same audience.
An Axios reporter and a Washington Post columnist both say they spoke to an unnamed White House aide who told them the White House won’t allow North Korea to “hijack the messaging of the Olympics.”
North Korea is sending its ceremonial leader, King Yong Nam, to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, where he will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.