Nauert: North Korea's Kim Yong Chol should visit warship memorial

By Elizabeth Shim
Nauert: North Korea's Kim Yong Chol should visit warship memorial
Kim Yong Chol (L), the North Korean vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, visiting with South Korea’s Han Min-koo in March 2006. Kim is attending the Winter Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday. File Photo by Yonhap

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The planned visit to South Korea from Kim Yong Chol, the North Korean vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, is being followed up with advice for the senior Pyongyang official at the U.S. State Department.

Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday Kim, who may have ordered an attack on a South Korean warship in 2010, should visit the memorial in the South built for the victims of the torpedo attack, Yonhap reported.


Nauert said Kim should take the opportunity to see what he should be responsible for, namely, the death of 46 South Korean seamen.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the attack despite overwhelming evidence.

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Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have previously visited the memorial in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, ahead of their attendance at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Nauert also said the United States has a very close relationship with South Korea and defended the lifting of specific sanctions targeting North Korean individuals, like Kim Yo Jong, for the duration of the Winter Games.


Republicans and Democrats are in some agreement about South Korea's policy approaches thus far.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been leading efforts to engage North Korea since January, and the Olympics have become a symbol of a breakthrough that is being viewed favorably in Washington.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said he felt positive about any communication between the two Koreas, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.

Cardin also said the exchanges during the Winter Games were also a good development, according to the report.

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Opposition party politicians in South Korea are not so sure, however.

Rep. Hong Jun-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party asked rhetorically on Friday whether the ultimate goal of the "pro-Pyongyang" administration, referring to Moon's government, is a federated unification that also "recklessly abets the division of South Korean opinion and the alienation of the U.S.-South Korea alliance," that are the goals of Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yong Chol is to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics on Sunday.

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