The North Korean regime is sending to the Olympic Closing Ceremonies a delegation of senior officials led by a terrorist widely believed to be responsible for orchestrating the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel that killed 46, a move that has drawn sharp protest from the Trump administration in conversations with the Washington Free Beacon.
North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, vice chair of the Communist hermit nation's Party Central Committee, is scheduled to lead the delegation to South Korea in what is being viewed by senior U.S. administration officials as yet another provocation by North Korea's hardline regime.
Despite Chol's scheduled appearance, the international media—including prominent American outlets—have remained relatively quiet about the news, instead providing North Korea with fawning coverage during the Olympics. This included scores of reports praising the nuclear-ambitious nation's efforts at so-called diplomacy.
The decision to send Chol—who is sanctioned by both the United States and South Korea for his alleged role in destroying the navy ship and other provocative moves—has drawn a sharp response from senior Trump administration officials, who slammed media outlets for buying into the North Korean regime's massive propaganda machine, which they say has been working over time during the Olympic games this winter.
The Free Beacon reported earlier this month, as the Olympics kicked off, that the Trump administration is renewing efforts to confront North Korea, despite reports falsely claiming U.S. officials had backed off this effort.
"Many in the U.S. media were quick to praise North Korea's attempts at diplomacy, but in reality they just fell for North Korea's charade," one senior Trump administration official told the Free Beacon.
"With just a soft smile from Kim Yo-Jong [the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un], the Director of Propaganda and Agitation for North Korea, the media forgot her regime's decades of human rights violations and militant provocations on the world stage," the U.S. official said.
Chol's presence at the closing ceremonies will not be ignored by the Trump administration, the official said.
"Now North Korea is showing its true colors by deploying a man responsible for the deaths of 46 South Koreans … to South Korea," the senior administration official said.
As President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, gears up to attend the closing ceremonies on behalf of the United States, administration officials say there will be continuing efforts to confront North Korea and counter its propaganda campaign.
During the opening ceremonies, Vice President Mike Pence was pictured with a North Korean official, sparking media coverage of a possible détente.
However, Pence and senior administration officials made clear to the Free Beacon that Pence's presence was meant to serve as a foil to North Korea's charm offensive.
Pence, in a speech Thursday before the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative thought leaders, vowed to continue efforts to sanction North Korea and stand up to its nuclear provocations.
"The USA doesn't stand WITH murderous dictatorships — the USA stands UP to murderous dictatorships!" Pence tweeted. "And we will keep standing strong until North Korea stops threatening the United States and our allies — and abandons their nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all!"