Aussie 'Kim Jong-Un' stirs up North Korean Olympic supporters


The Unification Ministry said 2.86 billion won ($2.65 million) will be allocated from a government budget for inter-Korean cooperation to defray the expenses racked up by North Korean cheerleaders, orchestra members, taekwondo performers and others during the event that began last Friday and ends February 25.

Past "charm offensives" have been interpreted as North Korea trying to recoup from crippling sanctions on their nuclear program, or trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its US ally. "As a president, it's all I can ask for", Howard told Reuters, shortly after plain-clothed officials from South Korea's National Counter-terrorism Centre moved him away from the cheerleaders, who he said had been doing a very good job.

He hosted a luncheon on Saturday and Kim Yo Jong and North Korea's elder figurehead, Kim Jong Nam, were there.

South Korea on Wednesday approved spending $2.64 million to foot the bill for the hundreds of members of the North's delegation to the Winter Olympics.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also closely following developments but said he and South Korea President Mioon agreed that maximum pressure must be maintained on North Korea.

The North has since sent its athletes to the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang, along with cheerleaders and performers.

The North-South thaw has prompted speculation that it could lead to direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang after months of tension and exchanges of insults between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim, which has fueled fears of war.

The delegation also included his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, who was the "special envoy" to Kim.

There's been tons of excitement since the Winter Olympics opened in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last week, but so far the team making the most headlines is not competing, just sitting on the sidelines.

The Unification Ministry said the funds will come from the government budget for inter-Korean cooperation and will cover housing and food for the cheering squad, orchestra, taekwondo athletes, journalists and other members of the more than 400-strong delegation. For as little as $3, you can help us.

"Today I attended a hockey game, and unfortunately, they did not have a sense of humor", Howard said in an appearance on an Australian morning show called "Sunrise".

The North Korean cheerleaders have captured global attention since their arrival at the games.