N Korean official linked to deadly ship attack heading to Olympics closing ceremony
Top intelligence honcho was allegedly behind 2010 torpedo attack on South Korean warship
Pyongyang informed Seoul on Thursday that Kim Yong-chol, a North Korean official who was allegedly behind the 2010 torpedoing of South Korea’s Cheonan warship that killed 46 sailors, will lead a high-level delegation to Sunday’s closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Kim, a vice chairman of the North’s Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, will lead the eight-member delegation, according to the South’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs. Kim is reportedly the director of the committee’s intelligence arm, the United Front Department.
The North faxed the news through a hotline in the border village of Panmunjom on Thursday, the ministry said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s government has made no official mention of Kim’s alleged role in the Cheonan’s sinking. But the administrations of both Lee Myung-bak — who was president at the time of the incident — and his successor, Park Geun-hye, have both publicly fingered Kim as orchestrating the attack.
“Kim is blacklisted unilaterally by Seoul and Washington due to his links to the regime’s weapons development program. Seoul has decided to temporarily lift the travel ban for the upcoming visit and discuss that issue with the United States,” Korea JoongAng Daily reported, quoting a Blue House source.