Photo/IllutrationNorth Korean cheering squad members leave an expressway service stop in Gapyeong, South Korea, on Feb. 7. (Yonhap via AP)

UNITED NATIONS--The U.N. committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea granted an exemption Wednesday for a senior official from Pyongyang to attend the Winter Olympics in South Korea with his country's high-level delegation though he is subject to a travel ban and asset freeze.

Ambassador Karel Van Oosterom of the Netherlands, who chairs the Security Council committee, said that "following due consideration" members approved the exemption for Choe Hwi, who has been on the U.N. sanctions blacklist since June 2, 2017.

South Korean Charge d'affaires Ham Sang Wook asked the committee earlier Wednesday to grant a sanctions exemption to the 23-member high-level delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea--the country's official name--without naming Choe.

Ham said the delegation's participation "will serve as a timely opportunity to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and beyond by promoting an environment conducive to a peaceful, diplomatic, and political solution concerning the situation on the peninsula."

Choe is identified on the U.N. sanctions blacklist as "First Vice Director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department, which controls all DPRK media and is used by the government to control the public."

But the delegation list submitted to the sanctions committee by South Korea identifies him as "Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission."

In a letter to the Security Council committee, Ham said the delegation is expected to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Pyeongchang as well as engage in "high-level inter-Korean dialogue," among other events, from Friday through Sunday. He asked for a sanctions exemption for that period.

Ham noted that the committee can grant exemptions from sanctions on a case-by-case basis for any reason consistent with the objectives of relevant Security Council resolutions. He said South Korea wanted to stress that the DPRK visit is in line with council objectives that call for "efforts to engage in dialogue and reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula."

Van Oosterom's letter in reply noted the exemption request for the high-level delegation, "specifically the participation of Mr. Choe Hwi" who is under sanctions. He said the committee decided to approve the exemption in accordance with the provision in the latest North Korea sanctions resolution in December allowing case-by-case exemptions.