Speed Reads

2018 Pyeongchang Olympics

Mike Pence positions himself in 'total disagreement' with South Korea's president ahead of the Olympics

Vice President Mike Pence's presence in Asia this week, and his attendance of the Opening Ceremony in Pyeongchang on Friday, is meant to send a message of resolve to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Based on his comments in Japan on Wednesday, though, Pence clearly intends to make a point to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, too, The Washington Post reports.

Speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pence vowed "America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever — and we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all."

Reflecting on the comments, former State Department official David Straub told the Post: "We've seen some of these elements before but to put them all together in one place and deliver them standing beside Prime Minister Abe in Japan constitutes a frontal assault on Moon's North Korea policy. They're in total disagreement."

Moon has focused recently on reaching out to North Korea, and the two countries will march together in the Opening Ceremony under a unified flag. Belonging to the "sunshine policy" school of thought, Moon is of the belief that "gentle persuasion works better than force," the Post adds.

Pence, though, has been unmistakable in his message, which extends to his very presence at the games. He is additionally bringing the father of an American student who died after being medically evacuated from North Korea as his guest to the Opening Ceremony.