- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks in Pyongyang, South Korean officials said on Saturday, setting the stage for the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than 10 years.
So imagine the confusion, the wonder, the pervasive sense of the surreal that will greet South Koreans on Saturday when they watch their democratically elected president playing host to North Korean royalty, the granddaughter of the man who ordered the 1950 invasion of the South.
"I feel so good", North Korean figure skating coach Kim Hyon Son said after the ceremony.
The invitation was made during an informal meeting between Moon and the DPRK's Olympic delegation, including the younger Kim who serves as the first vice director of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.
Pence stood to welcome the USA athletes as the Korean pop hit Gangnam Style blared around the stadium, sparking the "Horse Dance" in the crowd and among the volunteers.
Though it has no real medal contenders and sent only 22 athletes, North Korea has turned out to be a major political player in Pyeongchang.
It was the US that appeared to be the one left in the cold, especially after the sister of the North Korean dictator extended an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit the North.
Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Vice President Pence, who is leading the US delegation to the Olympics, also accused the article of appearing to blot out the North Korean government's record.
"We need all United Nations member states to strictly enforce Security Council resolutions and raise pressure to the maximum degree until North Korea (agrees to) change its policies and comes to us seeking dialogue", he said.
The team now has 12 North Korea players, although only a few will participate in each game, and many fears have been soothed since the original announcement.
Mr Moon is eager to use Kim Yo Jong's presence at the games to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into nuclear talks.
A giant dove of peace lit up the night sky, famous South Korean singers sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and, most significantly of all, athletes from North and South Korea walked in unison for the first time in 11 years.
But a spokesman for the South's presidential Blue House said he arrived late, "exchanged greetings with those seated at the head table, and left without sitting down".
After a chaotic year of nuclear war threats and nuclear and missile tests from the North, it was a striking visual moment.
North Korea considers the US its sole counterparty in negotiations over its nuclear program.
Still, North Korea's participation in the Olympics and the invitation has raised hopes that a thaw in relations could lead to a substantive agreement. Speaking to NBC's "Nightly News" on Thursday, the vice president continued to stress that the U.S. would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland". The senior US official said Pence was not trying to avoid the North Korean officials but rather ignore them.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence watch short track speed skating events at the Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018. He criticized the Trump administration for straining too hard to signal disgust of Kim Jong Un's government.
On September 3 2017 North Korea detonated its most powerful nuclear blast to date, sending tensions on the peninsula higher than a mushroom cloud.
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