Pyeongchang — North Korea has emerged as the early favourite to grab one of the Winter Olympics’ most important medals: the diplomatic gold. That is the assessment of a former South Korean government minister and political experts who say the North has used the Games to drive a wedge between South Korea and its US ally and to potentially ease pressure on its sanctions-crippled state. In barely a month since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surprised the world and said his nation was ready to join the Games, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has delayed military exercises, feted Kim’s sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North. "North Korea clearly appears to be winning the gold," said Kim Sung-han, who served as Korea’s foreign vice-minister in 2012-13 and who now teaches at Seoul’s Korea University. "Its delegation and athletes are getting all the spotlight, and Kim Jong-un’s sister is showing elegant smiles before the South ...

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