Already facing criticism for plans to march under a unity flag and field a combined Korean ice hockey team, the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in may come under further pressure if it is seen to be endorsing Kim’s luxury getaway on North Korea’s east coast.
“The idea of joint training could be used as a propaganda tool to rationalize how far-sighted Kim Jong Un was in making what was actually an anachronistic decision to build the ski resort at a time when ordinary citizens are starving to death”, said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister.
North Korea’s participation in the Olympics was a goal for Moon, who hopes to use the event to defuse tensions and break a months-long standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile tests.
The two Koreas agreed during rare talks last week to hold joint training sessions at the North’s Masik Pass resort ahead of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Seoul officials are scheduled this week to inspect the resort’s facilities and the newly built Kalma Airport nearby that may be used to fly in the South Korean skiers, who are not expected to attend the Games.