South Korea is reportedly preparing a lavish reception for Ivanka Trump’s visit late February 2018, the kind that would usually be reserved for a first lady or head of state.
Officials are said to be planning to roll out the red carpet ahead of the Winter Olympics — with the ultimate goal of lobbying her father, President Donald Trump, to visit North Korea on a diplomatic trip.
Seoul plans to host Ivanka Trump as if she were First Lady, South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reported on Feb. 19, 2018. She is visiting Pyeongchang on Feb. 25, 2018 for the closing ceremony of the Olympics.
According to the newspaper, officials plan to flatter Ivanka by having South Korean President Moon Jae In accompany her to watch a skiing competition, and by getting First Lady Kim Jung Sook to show her round the country. Ivanka is a keen skier herself, and has hit the slopes at least twice since her father took office.
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) March 23, 2017
Officials reportedly also want to “lavish” her three children with presents.
Although Seoul has no diplomatic obligation to host the president’s child on such a grand level, officials are “considering exceptional measures” because of Ivanka’s influence in the White House, an unnamed South Korean government official told The Chosun Ilbo.
By comparison, Vice President Mike Pence wasn’t given such a warm welcome when he arrived in South Korea to open the Winter Olympics.
The Chosun Ilbo said: “The government apparently wants to soften her up so [Donald] Trump agrees to a mooted visit to Pyongyang by President Moon Jae In.”
Seoul is rolling out the red carpet for Trump “on the assumption that she is to all intents and purposes the first lady of the US rather than Trump’s reluctant wife Melania,” The Chosun Ilbo added.
South Korea has been actively pushing for peace on the Korean peninsula. Early February 2018, President Moon met with Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and pledged to “creating the necessary conditions in the future” for him to visit the North.
The US has also expressed willingness to negotiate with Kim Jong Un, but pledged to maintain a “maximum pressure” approach until Pyongyang reached out.
It’s unclear whether Trump will meet Kim Yo Jong — who has been dubbed “the Ivanka Trump of North Korea” — during her visit. Pence skipped a dinner in order to avoid her.