Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader’s sister (G) presents a letter from Kim Jong Un to South Korean President Moon Jae-in (D) in Seoul on February 10, 2018
North and South have encouraged Saturday a single Korean team at the Olympics, but just recall the North Korean nuclear test in September to measure what „relaxation“ is precarious, experts say.
Conducted five months ago in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions, this test, the most powerful ever conducted by the North, has pushed tensions on the peninsula to new heights.
The speed of inter-Korean rapprochement since the beginning of the year in favor of the „Peace Games“ in Pyeongchang has certainly been extraordinary. But the question is what will be left of the Olympic truce, say experts.
The North has unexpectedly agreed to send sportsmen, artists and even cheerleaders to the South, while the two countries are still technically at war.
North Korean cheerleaders arrive in Inje, near Pyeongchang, South Korea for the Olympics, February 7, 2018
And his official delegation is led by Kim Yong Nam, officially the Head of State and as the most senior North Korean leader who has never crossed the soil of South Korea.
The star of the delegation, however, is Kim Yo Jong, the sister of number one Kim Jong Un, who has formally invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to travel north.
An offer that puts the ex-lawyer in a dilemma: accept the invitation and alienate Washington or refuse it and bury a dream of peace that is the fight of a lifetime.
– Moon is ’not an idiot‘ –
„The Olympic initiative is likely to increase the obvious gap between the United States and South Korea,“ Robert Kelly of Busan National University wrote on Twitter.
Screenshot of the North Korean KCTV television showing a North Korean missile on February 8, 2018 during a military parade in Pyongyang
Washington demands that Pyongyang take concrete steps towards denuclearization before any discussions. And US President Donald Trump has multiplied the bellicose statements and insults against Mr. Kim who responded by the bidding war.
Mr. Moon, whose parents fled the North during the Korean War (1950-1953), was elected by advocating dialogue to defuse the crisis.
But Olympic magic is not everything: only a few rows separated him from the North Korean delegation during the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday, but US Vice President Mike Pence did not cross.
Nor did he applaud the tour of Korea’s unique delegation under the banner of the reunited peninsula.
For Kelly, the relationship between Seoul and the United States, which has 28,500 troops in the South, is not compromised.
„She had ups and downs much more serious than the + cosmetic diplomacy + Games + propaganda +,“ he says.
And Mr Moon, to believe it, „will not be spoiled by some medals from the unified team or a trip to Pyongyang“.
„He’s a Liberal, not an idiot or a traitor,“ says Kelly.
– Mission almost impossible –
The South Korean president has also dodged an immediate response to the invitation, according to his spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, asking for the creation of „the right conditions“ for such a visit and calling on the North to seek a more active “ absolutely necessary dialogue „with Washington.
There have already been two inter-Korean summits as well as joint cultural or sporting events. But they did not deter Pyongyang from pursuing his race for atomic weapons.
To get the North’s participation in the Olympics, the South has persuaded Washington to delay joint maneuvers, sources each year of the wrath of Pyongyang, which sees them as a repeat of an invasion.
What will happen this year when these exercises will be held after the Paralympic Games?
North Korea is a formidable negotiator who has always justified its ballistic and nuclear programs by the threat Washington poses to the very survival of its regime. In other words, the atomic bomb is his life insurance.
Thursday, on the eve of the opening of the Games, Pyongyang reaffirmed with a monster military parade during which the regime has exhibited missiles that are according to him able to send a nuclear charge on the American continental soil.
To get Pyongyang and Washington out of the deadlock is almost impossible for Seoul, said Kim Byung-yeon, a professor at Seoul National University.
„For now, the North is asking too high a price and the United States is not ready to pay,“ he told JoongAng Ilbo daily.
„If the intermediary insists too much to try to convince both parties when the gap is simply too big, all he reap will be criticism from both sides.“