It's outrageous that South Korea twice seated Vice President Mike Pence next to North Korean officials on Thursday.
The first incident came when President Moon Jae In’s government sat Pence and the North Koreans at the same dinner table. To his credit, Pence refused to acknowledge the U.S. adversaries and left after five minutes. But then, at the Olympics opening ceremony, Pence was forced to sit close to Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong.
South Korea has behaved very poorly here. For one, it seems clear that Seoul blindsided Pence’s team with its seating decisions. We can make that confident assessment based on the Vice President’s reaction at the dinner. Had he been forewarned of who would be near him, Pence would likely have avoided the situation entirely. So why did Moon's government do this? I think it’s simple: they wanted to force the Trump administration to start appeasing Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Cowed by North Korea's aggressive behavior, South Korea has decided to kneel in supplication to his regime and do everything they can to keep him happy. Fortunately, Trump is taking a tougher stance. President Moon obviously decided that the Olympics offered the perfect opportunity to coerce the U.S. into a more conciliatory meeting of minds.
It was a very stupid idea, not just undiplomatic and idiotic but also immoral.
After all, the South Korean government knew that Pence had taken Fred Warmbier — father of the young student and North Korean victim, Otto Warmbier — to Pyeongchang as his guest. To then throw Pence into some kind of make-believe love fest with those who had tortured and killed his guest's son is unconscionable.
It's good that Pence refused to play to the South Korean hymn sheet, but I hope he also offered President Moon a few choice words.