SEOUL – The North Korean delegation that will attend the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics at PyeongChang arrived in South Korea on Sunday.
The delegation, headed by General Kim Yong-chol, was surrounded by a strong security deployment against protests called over their visit.
The eight-member committee sent by Pyongyang arrived in South Korea by road around 9:53 am local time after crossing the transit point in Paju inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, according to the South Korean government.
The delegation will remain in South Korea for three days and attend on Sunday the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, which will also be attended by a United States delegation led by Ivanka Trump, daughter and advisor of US President Donald Trump.
Kim Yong-chol, 72, a senior official in the North Korean regime, is on Seoul’s sanctions list over his role in the development of the nuclear program; moreover, he is also considered the mastermind behind the two attacks on South Korea in 2010, in which 50 South Korean people died.
Opposition parties in South Korea and families of the victims have called for protests against his visit and have demanded it be cancelled or for him to be arrested upon arrival for his role in the attacks.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he accepted the visit despite rejection from large sections of the population as he considers it a step forward in the thaw in ties between the two Koreas during the Games, with the eventual objective of peace in the Korean peninsula.
The presence of delegations from the US and North Korea at the closing ceremony has once again led to speculation about possible contact between the two parties.
There was a failed attempt for an interaction between US Vice President Mike Pence and the North Korean delegation, led by Kim Yo-jong, sister of dictator Kim Jong-un, during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games.