"What's clear is that there is no difference in opinion between the South Korean and US governments over North Korea polices and that the countries are closely discussing and cooperating on that front", said Noh. "Until a candidate is nominated, we have a highly experienced and well-respected charge d'affaires serving in Seoul", said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.
Trump called Ji, who suffered torture and starvation and lost a hand and a foot, a witness to the "ominous" nature of North Korea's government.
"They are in dialogue, at least as it concerns the Olympics, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing", Trump said. The first, and most obvious, is that it's highly unlikely Kim Jong-un will believe the Trump administration's assurances that "surgical" strikes are not the opening phase of an all-out U.S. assault aimed at overthrowing the regime. "It could have been done 12 years ago, it could have been done 20 years ago".
"We ran out of road", he said.
When confirming plans to resume the exercises, US Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. Mackenzie told reporters Thursday the drills would start "immediately" after the Olympics.
The United States and South Korea agreed to suspend joint military exercises on the peninsula until after the two-week Winter Games, which begin February 9 in PyeongChang. They returned home aboard a chartered South Korean flight together with the 32-member North Korean delegation. But experts said such displays of harmony are unlikely to last.
U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first State of Union speech to Congress on Tuesday, branded North Korea's leadership "depraved".
Given the extent to which we have underestimated the sheer pace of North Korea's nuclear and missile development over the past decade, this intelligence assessment might happen sooner than we think.
For years, the United States has tried to convince the Kim family to agree to drop its nuclear weapons program in exchange for negotiations to lift economic sanctions and potentially restore diplomatic relations.
The U.S. ambassadorship to South Korea is set to stay open a while longer after the Trump administration dropped from consideration a prominent Washington-based academic who had been tapped for the job.
Trump's administration has warned that all options are on the table, including military ones, to resolve the crisis. But the president's rhetoric, including vows to use military power to "totally destroy" the North, and his personal denunciations of Kim have ramped up tensions on the peninsula. "It could reduce the incentive to negotiate and potentially undercut efforts [of cooperation] with China". North Korea originally had no athletes accredited to play in the games.
The White House had not disclosed Ji's appearance at the State of the Union ahead of time. Ji lost a leg and an arm after being hit by a train as a boy while scavenging for food during a nationwide starvation.
Ji fled North Korea in 2006 by crossing the Tumen River into China and making his way to Laos and Myanmar, before entering Thailand. The letter said the Winter Olympics in South Korea are a "dramatic turning point" for peace, stability and national reconciliation on the Korean peninsula where a "touch-and-go war danger" prevails.
"That's why even today, many defectors carry poison with them in case they are caught in China".
The letter blasted the USA for military exercises that North Korea says could be the primary reason reconciliation efforts would fail.
Aides to former president Barack Obama said they do not recall him meeting with defectors.
North Korea tested a new ICBM last November which it said could reach all of the United States. North Korea's rights rights record is heavily criticised by both the United States and the United Nations, and it is estimated to have up to 120,000 political prisoners in its sprawling gulag system.
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