Winter Olympics: Korean athletes under unified flag at opening march

Winter Olympics: Korean athletes under unified flag at opening march

Never before has the North Korean nuclear threat garnered so much global attention, culminating - thus far at least - in the Winter Olympics, being staged in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where there are now some intriguing power plays at work.

Leader Kim and US President Donald Trump exchanged threats of war and personal insults, sparking global alarm and fears of a new conflict on the peninsula.

North Korea has not participated in the Winter Games in eight years, and not a single athlete from the country has ever defected during the Olympics.

The North Korean artists performed Thursday in Gangneung, a coastal city that will host the skating, hockey and curling events during the games, and are to perform again in Seoul.

"Everybody's been wonderful, absolutely wonderful", said Mancari of the South Koreans.

The Trump administration is cautious of Seoul falling for North Korea's charm offensive during the Winter Olympics, which are taking place amid tension over Pyongyang's nuclear programme. The United States fought with South Korea and maintains tens of thousands of troops and an "ironclad" agreement to protect its ally. They said Pence could have opted to sit with the U.S. delegation and avoided the box that included the North Koreans.

Pence rode to the reception with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the two held a private conversation while waiting more than 10 minutes for a photo opportunity with Moon.

The last member of the Kim family to set foot in Seoul was Yo Jong's grandfather Kim Il Sung, the North's founder, after his forces invaded in 1950 and the capital fell.

These officials said that while Pence did not greet Kim Yong Nam, he didn't deliberately skip over him.

"One of the main reasons North Korean athletes don't defect is due to their families back in North Korea", said Benjamin Young, a doctoral candidate at George Washington University who has researched sports in North Korea.

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Pita Taufatofua, who competed in taekwondo in the 2016 Rio Olympics and will compete in cross-country skiing in Pyeongchang, carries the flag of Tonga during the opening ceremony.

Moon sees the Olympics as an opportunity to restore meaningful communication with North Korea after an extended diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear ambitions.

Kim Yo Jong told Moon that relations would improve quickly once he meets with her brother.

North Korea has sent hundreds of people to Pyeongchang, including officials, athletes, artists, journalists and a 230-member cheering group.

Pence only stood for the USA team, according to the Associated Press, though others seated near Pence stood and applauded for the Korean delegation.

Ms Kim invited Mr Moon to visit "at the earliest date possible", a spokesman for South Korea's presidential palace said.

Pence had said all week that if he met with the North Koreans, he would deliver a tough message.

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang kicked off on Friday with the two Koreans marching under unified flag in an opening ceremony themed around peace and future.

The South Korean didn't play a part in the ceremony like Park or Pak, but she still appeared thrilled to be there.

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