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Korean unity symbolised by handshake and athletes' joint march during ceremony

12 February 2018

North Korean cheerleaders perform as (top, from left) South Korea's president Moon Jae-in, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam, and Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watch the women's preliminary round ice hockey match between the unified Korea team and Switzerland at the Gangneung Ice Arena, February 10, 2018.

Kim Yo Jong - the first member of the North's ruling dynasty to visit the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953 - sat a row behind Pence with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Kim Yo Jong has been rapidly rising within the North's power structure and is believed to be in charge of shaping her brother's public persona.

An inter-Korean summit would be the third of its kind, after Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il met the South's Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively, both of them in Pyongyang.

Analysts say Kim Jong Un's decision to send his sister to the South reflected an eagerness to break out of diplomatic isolation by improving ties with the South, which the country could eventually use as a bridge to approach the United States.

A senior administration official said Moon did express to the vice president that he hoped there could be some potential interaction between Pence and the North Korean delegations during the games - something that did not occur.

While Moon did not hesitate to shake hands and smile with his North Korean visitors, Pence didn't appear to even look in the direction of the North Korean delegation during the Friday event.

North Korea's official cheer squad is making its presence felt at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She wanted them to know she was happy they were going, she told them, even as she anxious they might not make it home.

They said they felt no fear as they walked into the opening ceremony, where North Korea and South Korea would moments later march together in a show of solidarity after a decades-long bitter and sometimes bloody standoff. Many in South Korea are uneasy over the unified team-and annoyed at the fact that some of their female Olympians will lose playing time to ice hockey players from across the DMZ. This vivacious group is just a chapter to an ongoing diplomatic maneuvers from the North and leader Kim Jong Un. "He cheered for the USA", a U.S. official said, via CNN.

North Korean Jong Su Hyon had one of Korea's three shots in the opening period.

That display of unity comes after sustained overtures made by South Korea's president Moon Jae-in.

In an exclusive interview with NBC's "Nightly News," Pence vowed that the USA would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland". "I thought things would be unusual and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar", Kim said while proposing a toast at Sunday's dinner, according to Moon's office. One man held up a sign that read, "The peace of all mankind".

On his flight to Alaska on Saturday, the vice president said he left Asia "encouraged that we will continue to work very closely to continue and intensify the maximum pressure campaign" against North Korea.

Korean unity symbolised by handshake and athletes' joint march during ceremony