Seoul (Reuters): North Korea will send another high-level delegation to South Korea for the Pyeongchang 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 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 Party Central Committee, and will stay for three days from Sunday, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said in a statement.
Kim Yong Chol is in charge of inter-Korean affairs in the North. He was also chief of the North’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, a top military intelligence body, which Seoul blamed for the deadly sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy corvette, in 2010.
The United States and South Korea blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North’s nuclear and missile programs in 2010 and 2016 respectively. However, South Korea decided to accept the North’s Olympics delegations 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 pending visit and they were in talks about Kim Yong Chol’s entry into the South.
Ri Son Gwon will travel with Kim Yong Chol for the Games closing ceremony. Ri, also involved in inter-Korean affairs, accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister on her visit for the Games opening ceremony this month.
The eight-member delegation, including six staffers, will travel by road and will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their visit, the Blue House official said, without specifying when.
Ivanka Trump will dine with Moon at the Blue House on Friday night and she has no plans to meet North Korean officials, a senior US administration official said.
“There is no official opportunity for them to meet,” the official said.
US Vice President Mike Pence attended the Games opening ceremony and had been scheduled to meet Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, before the North Koreans canceled at the last minute, US officials said.