Combined Korean team ready to shed politics in Olympic debut

North Korean media print pictures of South's Moon

North Korean media print pictures of South's Moon

All broke out in broad smiles.

At the opening ceremony, Kim Yong-nam and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong waved to North and South Korean athletes who marched under a unified peninsula flag for the first time in a decade.

The Games have triggered rapid reconciliation between the two Koreas, who are still technically at war.

As they shook hands, the North and South Koreans spoke briefly.

"The North Korean leadership simply does not want to give up the nuclear capability it has managed to create and South Korea's engagement policy can hardly persuade them to change their mind", said Balazs Szalontai, an associate professor at Korea University.

Pence said Friday that the USA would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program. Moon has dismissed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for South Korea and the USA to resume military drills.

"This is the strongest action yet by North Korea to drive a wedge between the South and the United States", said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister and now a professor at Korea University in Seoul.

A giant dove of peace lit up the night sky, famous South Korean singers sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and, most significantly of all, athletes from North and South Korea walked in unison for the first time in 11 years. There was another handshake.

The match was a political event as much as a sporting one, with the unified team - the Koreas' first for 27 years, and first ever at the Olympics - part of a deal forged last month and a symbol of Moon's hopes for a "peace Olympics".

"Always stay healthy. Make sure you visit Pyongyang with President Moon", Kim Yo Jong said to first lady Kim Jung-sook after the concert, according to pool notes from South Korea's Blue House.

The invitation puts Mr Moon in a hard position as he had promised to engage with the North, but his United States ally is cautious of Seoul falling for North Korea's charm offensive.

Japanese editorials sounded a similar warning, saying dialogue would be meaningless unless it led to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. During his visit to South Korea, where he led the American Olympic delegation, Pence has criticized North Korea's Olympic cooperation as a propaganda campaign to improve its image and weaken global support for sanctions.

The Vice President held a press gaggle outside of the memorial during which he was asked whether his message on North Korea was being overshadowed by Olympic fever or Kim Jonh-un's sister's presence there.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking during a reception for global leaders to mark the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the host town of PyeongChang South Korea yesterday. The North Korean art group is scheduled to stage a performance in Seoul tomorrow.

USA officials have been urging South Korea to be cautious in its rapprochement with the North.

Moon should seriously comprehend the implication that Abe took a risk by visiting South Korea to prioritize the improvement of bilateral ties.

"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program", Pence told reporters aboard a flight back to the U.S.

Others said they were horrified by the notion that Kim could lull South Koreans, or anyone else, into forgetting the repression and human rights abuses of her brother's regime.

The two will be attending the opening ceremony, where a North Korean delegation will also be present.

Kim Yo Jong is scheduled Saturday to have a luncheon with Moon Jae-in, details of which have not been made public.

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