The 2018 Winter Olympic Games officially opened on Friday in PyeongChang, South Korea. In attendance were several world leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and US Vice President Mike Pence. But the most surprising world leader in attendance was undoubtedly North Korea’s Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the country’s brutal dictator, Kim Jong-un.
What was perhaps just as surprising as Kim Yo-jong’s attendance at the opening ceremony was the way several US news outlets’ covered her presence there.
CNN seemed to give a glowing review of Kim Yo-jong:
“If ‘diplomatic dance’ were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister would be favored to win gold. With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea’s presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games.”
The New York Times even went so far as to say that Kim Yo-jong was a better force of diplomacy than Mike Pence:
“Flashing a sphinx-like smile and without ever speaking in public, Ms. Kim managed to outflank Mr. Trump’s envoy to the Olympics, Vice President Mike Pence, in the game of diplomatic image-making.”
The backlash against these glowing representations of Kim Yo-jong were swift. Other news organizations and private citizens voiced their concerns and even outrage that the representative from a country ruled by a dictator who keeps his people under an oppressive regime would be praised and even elevated above a leader of the free world.
In a tongue-in-cheek response, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin tweeted:
Conservative commentator Brit Hume got right to the point:
Does this puff piece mean she’s gotten over her dictator brother’s murder of her other brother? https://t.co/JhjCimwQ9O— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 10, 2018
Pence’s communications director, Jarrod Agen, also had something poignant to add:
In one country, you are free to write that headline. In the other, you are not. (Don’t think any smiles at the Olympics changed that.) https://t.co/EWT6WVEslm— Jarrod Agen (@VPComDir) February 11, 2018
Photo: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (back left) watch on during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Photo courtesy: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Publication date: February 12, 2018