Blacklisted Official Choe Hwi On North Korean Olympic Delegation

Heather Cheong, Feb. 8, 2018, 9:54 a.m.


The North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang includes an apparatchik who has been blacklisted by the UN Security Council. Sports official Choe Hwi (64) was blacklisted in June last year for his role in directing propaganda. Choe is the eldest son of former Construction Minister Choe Jae-ha, a close aide to regime founder Kim Il-sung.

North Korean officials on the blacklist have had their overseas assets frozen and been banned from traveling to any UN member state. If South Korea welcomes him it will be in direct breach of the sanctions.

Pyongyang is apparently determined to see how far it can get South Korea to bend the sanctions. Seoul could seek another exemption for Choe's visit following air and sea transport for North Korean participants, or it could refuse to admit Choe.

"The matter is under discussion because we can get an exemption from the UNSC Sanctions Committee," a Foreign Ministry official here said.

Kim Yo-jong is on a separate U.S. sanctions list, which the Treasury Department issued last January over the North's human rights abuse. The department says the Workers Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department, where she has worked as a vice director, is restricting information and brainwashing North Korean people.

Ri Son-gwon is also not blacklisted, but he is thought to be the right-hand man of Kim Yong-chol, the director of the United Front Department, who masterminded the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March 2010.

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