Vice President Mike Pence was at the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and it started off with a tense scare that had thousands of people nervous. The VP of the United States was sitting in front of Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Yo Jong was just feet away from the American Vice President during the Opening Ceremony, and it made people nervous because of what happened last year to Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was assassinated.
The controversy is already underway for the Winter Games and the tension between countries is at an all-time high at the moment. It was only days before Pence arrived in South Korea that North Korea was warned they would be smacked with the “toughest sanctions” if they continued testing nuclear weapons or missiles. Reports suggest that Mike Pence did not stand for North Korea, nor does it appear that he and Yo Jong had spoken. North and South Korea have a joint Olympic team for specific events. Pence, his wife, and others were sitting in a VIP box when this occurred. Pence was able to sit in an area with only Team USA representatives, but he chose to purposely sit in the other location so that North Korea would notice him. It is unknown if Jong-un’s sister was placed there on purpose, but the picture shows her face as not appearing very happy. The man she’s sitting next to has a skeptical look on his face and is looking possibly toward Pence’s direction. Nothing happened yet, but it had some people on the edge of their seat.
Pence has allegedly skipped a dinner that included members of North Korea’s leadership. The tension between America and North Korea can be felt across the water as the 2018 Winter Olympics take place.
— Frank Lea 🇺🇸 (@TrendingViews1) February 9, 2018
CBS Sports reported more on the tense situation that began the Winter Olympics:
“U.S. Vice President Mike Pence promised days before his arrival in Pyeongchang, South Korea that America would hit North Korea with the “toughest sanctions” to date as a result of tensions over nuclear and missile tests.
In Friday’s ceremony, Pence was seen sitting near none other than Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But the vice president, per reports from CBS News and the Associated Press, neither interacted with Jong nor stood to recognize the joint North and South Korea team that entered for the ceremony.
Other reports corroborated the suggestion that Pence and his wife, Karen, were the only people in the VIP press box not to stand in recognition of the Korean Olympic delegation, which marched united for the first time since 2007. And Voice of America later reported that Pence willingly opted to sit in the box, so as to be seen by North Korean officials, rather than simply sit with a delegation of only Team USA representatives.
According to BBC, the vice president, who at one point said he might consider meeting with North Korean officials during his time in South Korea, also skipped an Olympic dinner, where he was “due to share a table with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam.”
Some people were nervous because North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is accused of hiring assassins to kill his half-brother named Kim Jong Nam. That murder was caught on camera, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, when a female killer covered Jong Nam’s face with something that had a chemical on it. The compound used was listed as VX, a military grade chemical that has detrimental effects on the human body and can cause loss of life in under a half hour. It’s incredibly potent and terrifying that it was utilized within the realm of an airport where it could have possibly had a much more significant impact or exposure to others.
Time reported more on the assassination of Kim Jong Nam:
“Malaysian investigators revealed that the deadly toxin in the handkerchief was VX, a military-grade chemical weapon that makes muscles clench uncontrollably and causes death through excruciating asphyxiation in just 15 to 20 minutes. The use of such a rare and specialized compound, along with an attempted break-in at the mortuary that held Kim’s body, debunked alternative theories of a mob hit or a business deal gone sour. North Korea had likely unleashed a U.N.-certified weapon of mass destruction inside a crowded international airport. “This is a very, very big deal,” says professor Jennifer Lind, an East Asia expert at Dartmouth College.”
The tensions remain high between the leadership of North Korea and the United States of America. Kim Jong-un is capable of anything, but so are the Americans. The 2018 Winter Olympic has just begun and there’s already a dramatic sideshow that has exceptionally chaotic potential to turn into something much darker than we can ever imagine.
The Olympics bring countries together in competitive nature, but there’s another story on the backend of these games, and we need to watch every step very carefully. Expect more political points being made and public displays of power or disgust between arch rivals. There’s plenty of friendly competition in the games, but there’s also going to be some very heated exchanges that we must keep a keen eye on. Some of the exchanges might be quiet and go unnoticed, but be warned – they will be there.
You should expect the unexpected.