SEOUL Ė The upcoming visit of a North Korean military general to attend the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has led to protests in South Korea, where conservative groups demanded on Friday the cancellation of the visit or his arrest upon arrival for his alleged role in two attacks in the country which killed 50 people.
Kim Yong-chol, 72, figures in the list of people sanctioned in South Korea for his important role in the nuclear program and is suspected of masterminding two attacks carried out in 2010.
The incidents include the bombardment of Yeonpyeong island, which led to four deaths and the sinking of South Korean warship the Cheonan, attributed to the North by Seoul, which killed 46 sailors.
The main opposition, Liberty Korea Party, held on Thursday a protest in front of the Presidential Blue House in Seoul and demanded Kimís visit be cancelled to respect the victims of the attack, local news agency Yonhap reported.
Dozens of opposition lawmakers participated in the protest against the visit Ė scheduled to start on Feb. 25 Ė and the protesters said that they would use all possible means to try and block the generalís trip.
The government tried to calm the situation by saying it was difficult to pinpoint the mastermind behind the two attacks and said Kimís visit would help ties between the two Koreas.
A spokesperson of the unification ministry said in a press conference on Thursday that the government had accepted the visit as it believed that the delegationís visit would pave the way for dialogue.
Kim Yong-chol heads the North Korean delegation which would attend the closing ceremony of PyeongChang 2018, also expected to be attended by Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of US President Donald Trump.
Although initially a meeting between the US and North Korean delegations was ruled out, Seoul has said it would work to facilitate first contacts between Washington and Pyongyang and might take the issue up with Ivanka during her visit.
South Korea believes that the easing of ties with the North due to the Olympics will help bring the North Korean regime and the US back to the dialogue table, after 2017 saw heightened tensions due to repeated weapons tests by Pyongyang and its exchange of threats with Washington.