North Korea unilaterally and unexpectedly decided to pull the plug on a significant inter-Korean cultural event, once again raining on South Korea’s parade.
North Korea sent word Monday that it has decided to cancel a joint cultural celebration that was to be held at Mount Kumgang just days before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to Yonhap News Agency. The event was meant to bring the people of North and South Korea together.
Negative and unflattering media coverage, specifically reports raising concerns that certain types of cooperation (such as the provision of essential energy resources) could result in sanctions violations, reportedly left North Korea with “no choice but to cancel…the event,” the Seoul correspondent for AFP revealed, citing the South Korean government.
Since North and South Korea restarted bilateral talks in early January, the North has been nothing but trouble, making demands and complaining constantly. Pyongyang expressed frustration with South Korea’s interest in discussing North Korea’s illegal ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, Seoul’s interaction with Washington, and South Korean media reports that fail to paint North Korea as a glorious utopia.
North Korea has also been uncooperative, often failing to respond in a timely manner to requests or changing plans last minute with zero explanation.
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The sudden decision to cancel the joint cultural event is one of numerous problems that have plagued the so-called Peace Olympics that the South Korean government is desperately trying to organize in a very short amount of time. As is, liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating is tanking as South Koreans express dissatisfaction with the decisions to have North and South Korean athletes march together under a unified banner and form a unified Korean team for the Games.
Many observers suspect that North Korea’s interest in the Olympics is a sham to exact concessions from Seoul, as well as permanently cripple the U.S.-South Korean alliance. Pyongyang has lived up to these expectations, demanding an end to joint drills and urging South Korea to abandon its American protector to ensure peace. North Korea has even threatened to pull out of the Olympics.
Furthermore, there is significant evidence indicating that North Korea plans to upstage the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with a massive military parade the day before the Games begin.
Tensions are expected to rise again on the Korean Peninsula after the Winter Olympics.
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