Bloomburg is reporting that Vice-President Mike Pence was set to meet with North Korean envoys for Kim Jong-un while in South Korea for the Olympics. Alas, the meeting was canceled by the North Koreans a mere two hours before it was scheduled.
“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,’’ Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, said Tuesday in a statement. “This administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics. Perhaps that’s why they walked away from a meeting, or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down.’’
Ayers, Pence’s chief of staff, thinks the NoKos canceled because Pence announced aggressive new sanctions over Kim’s nuclear weapons program. Who knows? This meeting would have been the first high-level meeting in ten years. The Washington Post named the Rocket Man’s sister, Kim Yo-jong and Kim Jong Nam, North Korea’s head of state as the envoys.
Pence’s actions and rhetoric in the run-up to the Olympics contrasted with the image of progress being promoted by the South Koreans, who would have been eager to involve the United States in direct talks with the North.
The vice president’s office promoted his trip as an effort to combat what it said was North Korea’s plan to use the Winter Games for propaganda purposes and portrayed the cancellation of the meeting as evidence his mission was a success.
While the left took great pleasure in mocking and criticizing Pence for less than sociable behavior toward the representatives of a brutal dictatorship, it would appear that Pence did exactly what he set out to do. He gave no favor to the propaganda campaign that the American press was so eager to embrace, from praising the performances of the North Korean cheerleaders, to making Kim Yo-jong into a cool celebrity. Never mind that the cheerleaders performed under fear of imprisonment for themselves and their families and Kim Yo-jong is the Director of Propaganda and Agitation Department. If Pence’s vocal criticism of Kim Jung-un’s quest to complete a nuclear weapons program to destroy the free world irritated him, well, so be it.
Two decades of kowtowing to the ransom demands of the North Korean leadership just to be given phony reassurances that they will cease to build up their nuclear weapons program, only to have them never do so has delivered disastrous results. There is no reason to believe the invitation to meet with Pence was a serious one anyway.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained on Twitter that the campaign to pressure North Korea will continue until they get serious about talks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
The maximum pressure campaign deepening North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation will continue until #DPRK agrees to credible talks on a way forward to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) February 21, 2018