Mike Pence (AP/Mandel Ngan)

Mike Pence won't allow North Korea to "hijack" messaging at Winter Olympics

Leading the White House delegation, Pence will not allow any normalization of North Korea at the Olympics


Charlie May
February 4, 2018 9:29PM (UTC)

When it was announced that North and South Korea would march as one under the same flag for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, there was slight hope that the move could potentially lead to peace talks and a deescalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence will do everything he can to remind people that North Korea is "the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet," and not allow people to fall for the regime's "charade."

Pence will lead the White House delegation to the Winter Olympics this week and will attempt to dissuade any normalization of North Korea, multiple sources close to Pence told Axios.

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"The Vice President will remind the world that everything the North Koreans do at the Olympics is a charade to cover up the fact that they are the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet," a Pence aide said. "At every opportunity, the V.P. will point out the reality of the oppression in North Korea by a regime that has enslaved its people. We will not allow North Korea’s propaganda to hijack the messaging of the Olympics."

The source added, "We are seeing unprecedented level of international cooperation on the maximum pressure strategy targeting the Kim [Jong-un] regime, and the Vice President will make clear that this maximum pressure campaign will only intensify."

"North Korea wants to make this about cute photo ops. The Vice President is countering North Korea’s desire to control the message," another source told Axios. "We’re not going to cede two weeks of world media to North Korea."

U.S. tensions with North Korea have dramatically escalated since President Donald Trump took office last year, as he has exchanged several insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The threat of using military force has become an increasing concern in Washington, as the Pentagon has even grown fearful that the White House is pushing for war on the Korean Peninsula, as Salon has previously reported.

Of course, it's not entirely clear what Pence will do — if anything — to prevent the so-called normalization of North Korea. But the vice president is certainly not unfamiliar with his own forms of charades and stern stare-downs. Last April, Trump sent Pence to the border of North and South Korea where he was pictured staring down the regime. Naturally, it made for some hilarious memes on Twitter.

At the time, he said, "I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face."

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And who could forget the time Trump sent Pence to an Indianapolis Colts football game? He promptly left when opposing players on the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the national anthem to protest social and racial injustice — the team had a history of doing so.

If there's anyone who will proudly deliver a stern fatherly-like look of disapproval, no matter the setting or circumstances, it's Pence.


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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