Vice President Mike Pence gave a sobering reminder Wednesday about Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who was fawned over by publications including The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post during her appearance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics last week. Pence ignored her during the opening ceremony and explained his reasons in an interview with Axios.
“This may have escaped your notice but the North Korean leader’s sister got a little coverage on cable TV,” Axios’ Mike Allen said. “We saw the picture of her awkwardly behind you and Mrs. Pence in the box, did you give any consideration to greeting her?”
Pence said that he did not consider greeting her due to the brutality of the regime, referencing earlier comments that “more than 100,000 North Koreans as we speak are in modern day gulags.”
“Let me be clear,” he added, “I didn’t avoid the dictator’s sister but I did ignore her. I didn’t believe it was proper for the United States of America to give any countenance or attention in that forum to someone who’s not merely the sister of the dictator but is the leader of the propaganda effort.”
As Pence stated, Kim Yo Jong is deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party of Korea, the communist regime that runs the state.
Pence also brought up some recent high profile murders that have occurred in the family.
“I mean you have to remember this is a family that very recently ordered that their brother be murdered using chemical weapons and the world saw that in horror on airport videos reproduced,” Pence said. “This is a regime and a family that also ordered that their uncle be executed with artillery fire in front of a crowd of 10,000 people and she’s the leader of the propaganda effort of that government.”
“This is evil the likes of which we have witnessed rarely in our time around the world,” Pence emphasized, “and I wanted to send by my silence a very clear message that the people of the United States of America know who we’re dealing with and that we’re going to continue to stand firmly and stand strong with resolve and with our allies until the regime in North Korea ceases to threaten our country and our allies with nuclear and ballistic missiles and we’ll continue to hold them to account on their appalling record of abuse of human rights of their own people.”
Many in the media didn’t seem to get that message during the Olympic ceremonies last week. The New York Times talked about how “Kim Jong-un’s Sister Turns On the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight.” CNN described her as “stealing the show,” and The Washington Post even titled her “The Ivanka Trump of North Korea.”
Pence did say during the interview that the U.S. is open to talks with North Korea to convey U.S. policy about their nuclear program, however, he emphasized that such talks would not be negotiations.