A woman walks past a television screen showing Thae Yong-Ho, North Korea's then ambassador to Britain, seen now as one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to ever defect. Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je

South Korea’s government is telling high-profile North Korean defectors such as Thae Yong-ho to “cool it” by not engaging in public criticism of Pyongyang during February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The Chosun Ilbo also reports that Seoul intends to stay low-key when South Korea takes delivery of new F-35A fighter jets purchased from the US.

The newspaper says the South Korean government’s efforts to set a “festive mood of rapprochement” with the North contrasts with a huge military parade that Pyongyang plans to hold just before the Games begin – “suggesting that the appeasement is all one way.”

On the advice conveyed to Northern defectors, one South Korean government source reportedly said: “The request was ostensibly made out of concern for their safety, but it sounded like a warning not to pour cold water on the event.”

A military source was also cited as saying that Seoul had also nixed plans to send out “a congratulatory message marking the handover of the next-generation F-35A fighter jet in Texas in late March.”

The aforementioned Thae Yong-ho has been described as one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials ever to defect.

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