SEOUL – US Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that the military parade held by North Korea ahead of the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics was a threat to the world and the latest in a series of provocations.
Pence made the comments during the second day of his visit to South Korea, where he is set to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics and meet the South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“What we witnessed in Pyongyang (...) was once again an effort on the part of the regime in Pyongyang to display their ballistic missiles, to display a military that continues to make menacing threats across the region and across the wider world.” Pence said.
“Yesterday’s display was all one more part of an ongoing provocation,” he added, referring to the parade which was held on Thursday.
The US vice president talked to reporters after meeting a group of North Korean defectors and visiting a monument commemorating the Cheonan ship tragedy – allegedly sunk by a North Korean torpedo according to South Korea – that killed 46 people.
At both engagements, Pence criticized the Kim Jong-un regime, saying he would demand that Pyongyang “put denuclearization on the table and take concrete steps with the world community to dismantle, permanently and irreversibly, their nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
The vice president also criticized North Korea’s so-called charm-offensive during the Winter Olympics.
The North’s athletes have been accompanied by its famous cheerleading squad, an orchestra and a high-level delegation, and will march under a unified Korean flag for the first time since Turin 2006.
The delegation includes Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong – the first-ever member of the Kim family to visit South Korea – and is led by president of the national assembly Kim Yong-nam, the highest official to visit the country officially.