As North Koreans arrive at Olympics, Pence points to defectors to counter regime

US Vice President Mike Pence worked to deny North Korea a propaganda victory Friday, contrasting the growing exciteme...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 1:55 PM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 1:55 PM

US Vice President Mike Pence worked to deny North Korea a propaganda victory Friday, contrasting the growing excitement over Pyongyang's participation at the Olympic Games with powerful reminders of what he has called the most "tyrannical regime on the planet."

As South President Moon Jae-in prepared to host the North Korean delegation, including Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong, Pence and his wife Karen met with four North Korean defectors who shared heartbreaking stories of famine, torture and hardship.

"The American people stand with you for freedom and you represent the people of North Korea, millions of which long to be free as well," Pence told the defectors, two of whom met President Donald Trump at the White House last week.

"We've been inspired by your bravery. We ourselves have stood and looked across that demilitarized zone, that line across which you fled. You fled to freedom."

Later Friday Pence arrived at the Olympic venue in Pyeongchang where he met with Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At a leaders' reception ahead of the Opening Ceremony, the Vice President stopped to talk to delegates at several tables but didn't come across the North Korean delegation, according to officials traveling with him.

Harrowing tales

At the earlier meeting with defectors, Pence was joined by Fred Warmbier, whose son Otto died soon after being released from North Korean captivity last year. Warmbier shared a warm embrace with Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean man who US President Donald Trump introduced to the nation last month during his State of the Union address.

Trump told Ji's harrowing tale of how his limbs were run over by a train after he collapsed on the tracks in exhaustion before enduring torture at the hands of North Korean authorities.

Ji fled through an underground network China and other countries in 2006 before arriving in South Korea. He traveled on a pair of wooden crutches he said his father had made for him. With tears in his eyes, Ji hoisted the wooden crutches that his father made, to the thunderous applause from the audience at the State of the Union.

Pence also met Ji Huron, who escaped and was repatriated to North Korea three times, where she was tortured, underwent a forced abortion and sent to a prison camp. She was released from the prison camp as part of a nationwide pardon of inmates on Kim Jung Il's birthday, in February 2000.

Kim Hye Sook was incarcerated in a North Korean political prison camp for 28 years. When she tried to escape, she was sold into slave labor and repatriated before escaping to South Korea in 2009.

Kim told Pence, despite the images of North Koreans celebrating at the Olympic games, "we should never forget the millions of North Korean people who are struggling to survive."

Pence also met Lee Hyeon-seo, author of the best-selling book "The Girl with Seven Names -- A North Korean Defector's Story."

'Stand up for the truth'

The US delegation met with the defectors on the sidelines of a visit to pay respects at the Cheonan Memorial which honors South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack by North Korea.

Pence toured a museum featuring the soldiers' stories and examined hallowed remains of the Korean warship attacked by North Korea.

"Our objective here today is to stand with our allies," Pence said before flying to Pyeongchang to attend the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.

"But is also to stand up for the truth. And to recognize that whatever images may emerge against the powerful backdrop and idealism of the Olympics, North Korea has to accept change," Pence said.

"They have to abandon their nuclear ambitions. They have to end the day of provocation and menacing. And frankly they have to end an appalling record of human rights that you heard first-hand today."

Caution over warming ties

The Trump administration has been wary of South Korea's Olympic diplomacy.

Before meeting with Pence Thursday night, President Moon called the Olympics the "Olympic Games of peace," which he hoped would become a "venue that leads to dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Pence papered over any differences between the two allies, congratulating Moon on hosting the games, but refraining from criticizing his government's efforts to use the Olympics to re-engage with the North.

Pence has used his trip to Asia to keep the focus on North Korea's nuclear and missile threat and human rights abuses and deny Pyongyang a propaganda victory over its recent decision to participate in games.

West Lafayette
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Kokomo
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Rensselaer
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 48°
Fowler
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 48°
Williamsport
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 55°
Delphi
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 47°
Monticello
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 47°
Logansport
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Scattered Showers & Storms Tonight
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 149166

Reported Deaths: 3960
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24564781
Lake13079350
St. Joseph8788157
Elkhart8371132
Allen7815221
Hamilton5923113
Vanderburgh553050
Tippecanoe350914
Monroe319438
Hendricks3140130
Johnson2972127
Porter293248
Clark282157
Delaware279674
Vigo248837
Madison226991
Cass221020
LaPorte213057
Warrick186563
Kosciusko173121
Floyd172766
Howard157466
Bartholomew138657
Dubois133724
Marshall130626
Henry121828
Boone118648
Grant118039
Wayne117123
Hancock114144
Noble111333
Jackson107412
Morgan91540
Dearborn90328
Daviess83732
Gibson82611
Clinton81316
Shelby78329
Lawrence77832
LaGrange76615
Harrison73324
Knox69610
Putnam69515
DeKalb68611
Posey6745
Steuben5888
Miami5765
Fayette57515
Montgomery56422
White56215
Jasper5464
Greene51237
Scott50613
Decatur49439
Adams4645
Whitley4316
Clay4276
Sullivan42412
Ripley4178
Wells4125
Orange38624
Wabash3859
Starke3847
Huntington3695
Spencer3686
Franklin36325
Jennings35913
Washington3512
Randolph3378
Fulton3292
Jefferson3285
Pike31612
Carroll30813
Perry28914
Jay2816
Fountain2743
Tipton26623
Parke2182
Newton21111
Vermillion2111
Rush2034
Owen1991
Martin1950
Blackford1903
Crawford1481
Pulaski1431
Brown1283
Ohio1187
Benton1070
Union1020
Switzerland840
Warren731
Unassigned0233

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events