PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s Unification Ministry says North Korea will send a high-level delegation led by Kim Yong Chol, a senior party official suspected of leading two deadly attacks on the South in 2010, to the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The eight-member delegation from North Korea is expected to stay for three days, the ministry announced Thursday. There was no announcement of any plan for the North Koreans to meet with a U.S. delegation to Sunday’s closing ceremony headed by Ivanka Trump, who was to arrive in Seoul on Friday.
A U.S.-North Korea near-miss caused a great deal of controversy at the opening ceremony of the games, when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife were seated in the VIP box with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim’s sister was the first member of the Kim family to ever travel to South Korea.
Pence was criticized in the South for not standing when the joint Korea team marched into the stadium. He claimed after he returned to the United States that he had intended to meet the North Koreans, but said the North pulled out at the last minute. North Korea announced through its state-run media the day Pence arrived in Seoul that it had no intention of meeting him during the games.
Kim Yong Chol, the head of the North’s delegation for the closing ceremony, is vice chairman of the ruling party’s central committee.
He is in charge of inter-Korean affairs and used to be head of military intelligence. In that previous role, he was accused of planning an attack on the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, that killed 46 sailors and the shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island in 2010, when he was head of military intelligence.