Pence Hints At 'Toughest' Economic Sanctions Yet Against North Korea

Journalists are seen next to Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck's signboard while Japan's financial regulator conducts a spot inspection on Coincheck in Tokyo

In Korea, Pence will visit a memorial to the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack attributed to the North, and hold meetings with President Moon Jae-in.

Pence says the goal of his trip is to ensure the North can't "hijack" the games, and his schedule includes symbolic events created to highlight North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear program. Though no official plans have been made, Pence has expressed willingness to talk to North Korea's delegation.

From smartphones to ship fuel, South Korea is wrestling how to balance global sanctions on North Korea with its desire to show the Olympic spirit as it welcomes hundreds of North Koreans for the Winter Games. Also set to be there, Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong.

While the White House denies a shift in policy, it has offered mixed messages on North Korea.

Kim Jong-I hadl fathered both Kim Jong-Un and Kim Yo-Jong with his third partner, former dancer Ko Yong-Hui.

Complicating things further, Pence on Wednesday promised tough new sanctions against North Korea.

But the United Nations Command (UNC) officers who help oversee operations here and elsewhere along the 250-km (155-mile) DMZ say they are cautiously hopeful the recent flurry of talks and Olympics-related exchanges between the two Koreas will make their jobs less stressful.

Pence began his trip with a visit to Alaska, where he received a briefing on the U.S. missile defense system with U.S. Northern Command and highlighted the upcoming deployment of an additional 20 ground-based interceptors that will be ready to respond to a North Korean launch.

But they will not given to 22 North Korean and four Iranian athletes, as such handouts may violate United Nations' sanctions that ban providing the countries with luxury goods and products that can potentially be used for military purposes, the committee said.

Hundreds of North Koreans have arrived in South Korea ahead of the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

"North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers' private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won", Kim said.

Kim's presence, alongside Kim Yong Nam (no relation), the 90-year-old ceremonial head of state in North Korea, will raise hopes for a potential breakthrough in relations with the US.

The WT said the joint taekwondo performance will first take place at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, around 7:16 p.m. Friday, as part of pre-opening ceremony events for the Winter Olympics.

Pence is taking the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died previous year after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months.

About 3 million South Koreans are estimated to have invested in cryptocurrencies and the country is home to one of the world's biggest private bitcoin exchanges.

It includes an 114-strong art troupe and 96-crew who arrived at South Korea's Mukho port on Wednesday aboard the Mangyongbong 92 cargo-passenger ferry. Skeptics think North Korea is trying to use the Olympics to weaken USA -led sanctions and pressure against it and buy time to advance its weapons programs.

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