At a glittering but sub-zero ceremony, South and North Korea brought the crowd to its feet as they entered behind the blue-and-white Korean unification flag.
"While delivering a letter from Kim Jong-un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission, which contained his stated willingness to improve South-North Korea relations, special envoy Kim Yo-jong orally delivered Chairman Kim Jong-un's invitation (for Moon) to visit the North at a time convenient to him, saying he is willing to meet President Moon Jae-in at the earliest date possible", the spokeswoman told a press briefing.
Kim Yo Jong, the first member of the North's ruling dynasty to venture South since the Korean War, forms part of the highest level delegation ever to cross the border.
Protesters burned North Korean flags and pictures of leader Kim Jong-un as around 800 people gathered for a march toward the stadium where the Olympic torch was later lit, in what Seoul hopes will become a symbol of peace.
That is the assessment of a former South Korean government minister and political experts who say the North has used the Games to drive a wedge between South Korea and its US ally and to potentially ease pressure on its sanctions-crippled state.
The exchange with Kim however was the highest-level meeting between the United Nations chief and North Korea.
Hundreds of anti-North Korea protesters scuffled with riot police outside the Winter Olympics stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea, hours before two of the North's most senior officials attended the Games' opening ceremony.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam to engage in dialogue on ending the nuclear crisis during a brief exchange in South Korea, a UN spokesman said Friday.
Trump's administration has been adamant that North Korea must first freeze its military programs before talks can take place.
But in an interview in the Washington Post on Sunday, Pence said he and Moon had agreed on terms for more diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul and then possibly leading to direct talks with Washington without pre-conditions.
Critics - among them US Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - warn of a charm offensive by Pyongyang, which mounted a military parade on Thursday in a show of strength.
"Now is not the time to postpone U.S".
What did seem clear was that, deliberately or not, the North Korean government had managed to edge its way onto center stage during the South's biggest global moment in years. "Her being here is not that bad, but I feel North Korea has shown up to the Olympics without paying", Yoon told CNN during Saturday's hockey match between Switzerland and the unified Korean team.
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