South Korea pays North’s way to Games
Top leaders, Kim’s sister not among beneficiaries
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – South Korea is paying the bill for hundreds of members of North Korea’s delegation to the Winter Olympics.
The South and North Exchange Cooperation Promotion Council agreed Wednesday to use $2.64 million from the South Korean government for the North’s expenses in Pyeongchang.
The money will pay for members of an art troupe that performed in Seoul during the Games, a cheering squad that has captured attention as they root for the unified Korea team and other lower-level delegation members.
The International Olympic Committee is picking up the tab for 22
North Korean athletes who traveled to the Games.
The delegation included Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Expenses for her and other high-level North Korean leaders will be paid from another stream of funding, South Korea’s unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters.
He did not specify where that money would come from.
Kim Yo Jong’s visit marked the first time since the two countries split after World War II that a member of the ruling Kim family visited the South.
“The Olympics have become a chance for the North to communicate with the international community,” said South Korea’s unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon. “This could further pave the way for discussion to build and sustain peace.”
South Korea picking up the North’s tab for the Winter Games is no small thing. The regime has been economically isolated from much of the world economy over its nuclear and ballistic missile program.
The North’s presence in Pyeongchang was not assured until just weeks before the Games opened. The IOC had spoken of doing everything it could to ensure that North Korea would be here, and South Korea agreed to share its women’s hockey roster and to walk in as one Korea for the opening ceremony.
Kim, who in the past has threatened to bomb the official residence of the South Korean president, praised the South upon the return to Pyongyang of his sister and other high-level members of the delegation, according to KCNA.
The Trump administration has dismissed North Korea’s charm offensive as a propaganda stunt.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, greets members of his delegation, who visited South Korea. STR, AFP/GETTY IMAGES
South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, left, in line with the North’s Kim Yo Jong. ANDREW NELLES/ USA TODAY SPORTS