Vice President Pence departs Monday for a five-day trip to Japan and South Korea, a visit to Asia intended to focus almost entirely on rallying allies to ratchet up their pressure on Kim Jong Un’s repressive regime, as well as directly pressing North Korea to stop its nuclear ambitions. Even his final stop — leading the U.S. delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Friday night, and attending an Olympic event Saturday morning — has a clear geopolitical undertone: to combat North Korean propaganda amid the Olympic festivities, White House officials said.
North Korea’s ambassador to Beijing, Ji Jae-ryong, made his first public appearance in roughly two months, prompting speculation about warming relations between China and North Korea and whether some kind of important development or event is in the works. Ji reportedly shook hands and exchanged greetings with South Korean Ambassador Noh Young-min. Noh told Ji that he hoped the inter-Korean talks that resumed ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will continue. Ji said in response that he hoped the Pyeongchang Olympics would be a success, according to sources.