North Korean art troupe returns home after performances in the South

What happens with North Korea after the Olympics?

Pence led the US delegation to the games this week, where he refused to meet with North Korean officials on Friday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to meet in Pyongyang, a dramatic gesture that may raise prospects for easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. "Even for a moment, it appears to be a normal state". The invitation doesn't undermine Pence's message or goal of his trip to the Olympics in any way, the official said.

Many analysts are skeptical about Kim Jong Un's motivations for this sudden outreach, especially as he continues to assert his desire to press ahead with his nuclear weapons program to fend off the "hostile" United States.

The KCNA report cited Moon as saying inter-Korean relations should be mended by the parties concerned "at any cost as indicated by Chairman Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address".

"North Korea's proposal of an inter-Korean summit is its post-PyeongChang strategy", said Nam Sung Wook, a professor at Korea University's department of unification and diplomacy, in an interview with local media.

'Royal Family air' Pence has repeatedly said he would deliver a tough message to the North in any meeting.

South Korea may also need to persuade traditional allies the United States and Japan, which have raised concerns that the North is attempting to use its outreach as a release valve for worldwide pressure.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong hands over an autographed letter from Kim Jong Un to South Korea's President Moon Jae-in on February 10, 2018.

Accepting North Korea's demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, South Korea treated the Mangyongbong-92 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in global sanctions. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for US troops stationed in South Korea. "South Korea military exercises", Abe said, according to South's presidential Blue House.

Moon replied: "Our meeting was precious".

The North Korean issue is especially emotional in South Korea because the peninsula, which had been one country for thousands of years, was arbitrarily cut in half at the end of World War II, in what was supposed to be a temporary division.

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God bless Vice President Mike Pence for politely but firmly giving Kim Jong-un the silent equivalent of a two-word greeting. Kim then sent his sister and special envoy Kim Yo-jong to attend the opening ceremony and meet Moon.

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"For Japan it's a nightmare scenario", said Takashi Kawakami, a professor of global politics at Takushoku University in Tokyo.

Among the crowd was a large number of North Korea's all-female "Army of Beauties" cheer squad, known for their tightly choreographed moves and chants.

A senior Japanese defense official said North Korea's Games charm offensive could "simply be a way to gain time" until it completed its nuclear and ballistic missile development.

But Schoff said that by pouring cold water on hopes for better inter-Korean relations, Pence's stance could be viewed as critical of Moon's outreach to North Korea. "And we hope you take the comment as it is".

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.

Moon has benefited from the rock star-like reception that Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, has received here. It is not every day when a senior US and North Korean official are in the same venue - let alone sitting in the same section of the bleachers.

Fuel prices have risen and more wood-fired Soviet-era trucks have been seen on the outskirts of the capital, said the resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.

After meeting with Moon, the North Korean delegates boarded a bullet train to Gangneung, a coastal city hosting some Olympic events.

North Korea also practices an extreme form of discipline called "three generations of punishment".

Then, after Pence had departed for home, Moon went to the women's ice hockey match with the North Korean delegation, including Kim Yo Jong.

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