North Korea heads for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is famously reclusive

For the people of the Korean Peninsula, that was likely more significant than Pence's non-interaction with Kim Yo-jong.

Minutes later came a moment stunning in its optics and its implications: The United States, represented by Vice President Mike Pence, sitting a row ahead of Kim's sister and the North's nominal head of state, all watching the games begin - officials from two nations that many worry are on the brink of nuclear conflict.

The North Korean leader's, was in the audience on Friday night, the first member of the country's ruling family to visit the South.

The letter delivered by "Special envoy Kim Yo-jong" stated her brother's "wish to improve inter-Korean relations", Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

The spokesman said Mr Moon replied that the North and South should continue to work to build conditions so that a summit can take place. He'd been dispatched from Washington for the Olympics in part, he said, to make sure the world didn't forget that North Korea was a misbehaving and risky neighbor in the community of nations.

It cemented what has been a rapid improvement in Korean ties since North Korea - after months of fierce nuclear rhetoric and missile tests - agreed last month to attend its first Olympics in the South.

A private jet took off from Incheon airport in South Korea, carrying Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the rest of the North's unprecedented deputation whose presence drew the spotlight away from sporting endeavor and raised uncomfortable questions for South Korea's allies.

Kim Yo Jong sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited the South Korean President to the North in person
GETTY IMAGES Kim Yo Jong sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited the South Korean President to the North in person

Both of the high-ranking North Korean officials met and shook hands with South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who was seated directly in front of the North's delegation.

The White House official says Pence stood only for the US team, despite other people in the box standing and applauding when athletes from the two Koreas walked in together. It warned against agreeing to talks before North Korea scrapped its nuclear program, saying it would only "benefit the enemy". "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.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who looked uncomfortable at times during the opening ceremony, irritated his hosts by telling the South Korean leader that joint South Korea-U.S. military drills should be promptly resumed after the Games.

North Korea is under a heavy United Nations sanctions regime which was originally targeted at stopping the proliferation of arms and nuclear and missile technologies, but has become more all-encompassing after its accelerated missile testing.

"Now is not the time to postpone US-South Korea military exercises".

It would be the first summit in more than 10 years between the Korean leaders.

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