Olympiad of Appeasement
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
“North Korean athletes unite around Olympic flame to stay warm” is our favorite headline, at least so far, out of the games that are gathering at Pyeongchang in Free Korea. The headline appeared in the satirical website for American GIs, the Duffel Blog. The actual antics taking place at the games are less humorous. An attempt was made to maneuver Vice President Pence to sit at a small lunch with the so-called head of state of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam.
Mr. Pence had the good sense to duck out and go meet with American athletes. Plus, too, he was traveling with Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who was so mistreated in a communist prison that when he was returned home to Ohio he died. Messrs. Pence and Warmbier also met with defectors from North Korea, while Kim Jong Un’s thugs were meeting with South Korea in an attempt to drive a wedge between it and America.
This is, sadly, the main event at Pyeongchang. It was launched on South Korea’s conceit that it could be a “peace olympics” but has become the olympiad of appeasement. By far the leading contender for the gold medal in appeasement is South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in. He was so eager for North Korean “participation” in the games that he sent emissaries to Kumming, in Communist China, where North Korean school-children were playing in a soccer match.
That nugget is in a New York Times dispatch that illuminates just how premeditated was South Korea’s campaign of appeasement. John Kerry couldn’t have been more abject, though the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thos. Bach, a one-time-fencer from Germany, seems to have bought into the idea of appeasement on his own and ended up pressing the case to South Korea. It was originally rejected by President Park Geun-hye.
A heroic hardliner, Mrs. Park was eventually impeached and cashiered from office (she’s now in prison). That precipitated the election in May a year ago of the human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in, who had campaigned for office on the idea of confederating Free Korea with the communistic regime in the North. It was, the New York Times account suggests, Mr. Moon who finally won President Trump’s support, albeit grudging, for including North Korea.
Zino Francescatti couldn’t have played a fiddle any better than Kim Jong-un played Mr. Moon and the rest of the Olympic lot. At one point, the Times reports, Mr. Bach even offered to pay for North Korea’s team to come play. Kim Jong Un’s sister is now being feted at the games, and Kim Yong-nam, the aging North Korean “head of state,” dined in style with the big guys while Vice President Pence avoided a handshake and stuck with our athletes.
Good for him. The Associated Press quoted Mr. Pence as warning, during his meeting with the defectors, of a “charm offensive by North Korea.” He said that it was “important to make sure the truth is told” — that North Korea is “a regime that imprisons, and tortures, and impoverishes its citizens.” No one gainsays that the magnificent athletes at Pyeongchang deserve their shot at sporting glory. The medal for appeasement will go to their governments.