North Korea has called conservative South Koreans protesting in Seoul against Pyongyang's participation in the Winter Olympics "spasm of psychopaths" and "human scum".

After weeks of political and diplomatic wrangling, the Kim Jong-un regime decided to send its athletes to the Olympics beginning on Friday, 9 February. The development has raised hopes of reconciliation in the troubled Korean peninsula.

"They are no more than a group of benighted gangsters inferior to beast, human scum," said the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in a dispatch. "They, accustomed to sycophancy toward the US and confrontation with fellow countrymen, barely prolong their remaining days with vituperation and rampage. Their frenzy is getting fiercer after [US President Donald] Trump and [Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe prattled that pressure should be maximised without falling to the smiling diplomacy of the north."

In recent days, hundreds of anti-North Korea campaigners have taken to the streets against the North's participation in the Olympics. Some of them have burnt images of North Korean leader Kim.

On Wednesday, 7 February, protests were held when a North Korean art troupe arrived in South Korea for their upcoming performances at the Olympics events. The protesters burnt flags of North Korea and Kim's photos at the Mukho port on the east coast when the troupe members reached the place.

The North warned: "Such mad behaviour of the enemies of the nation running counter to the compatriots' wishes and the trend of the times will only bring earlier the day when the waste of history sink into the grave."

North Korea and Winter Olympics
A woman poses for photographs with the Olympic rings on a beach in Gangneung, South Korea Lucy Nicholson/Reuters