March 25, 2018

The most dramatic moment of the Olympics

11 February 2018, 01:12 | Taylor George

"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.

A White House official says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were seated just feet apart during Friday's Olympic opening ceremony, but they did not interact. Mr. Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both shook hands with Mr. Kim.

Outside the stadium, Zumi Miranada, a tourist from the Philippines, said the current cooperation between the North and South gives her "peace of mind" as a tourist. The unified Korean team also marched together in a attractive display under a unification flag but the show stealer was Pita Taufatofua-who competed in taekwondo in Rio's Summer Games and is in Pyeongchang to compete in cross-country skiing-for reprising his bare-chested appearance as flag bearer for Tonga. And Pyongyang, for its part, testily announced it had no interest in meeting him to begin with.

Thursday night, the two Koreas closed out the opening parade of nations by marching under one flag.

The ceremony's main program, too, traced the journey of five time-travelling children searching for peace, all the while celebrating South Korean cultural and technological prowess.

President Trump has traded insults with North Korea's leader and has led efforts to slap sanctions on the country for its refusal to yield to global pressure to halt its nuclear weapons program.

Pence, who is leading the United States delegation to the Olympics, briefly encountered Kim Yong-nam at the Games but the two tried to avoid directly facing each other. Local media in the South have been reporting on every move by Northern performers and cheerleaders.

Pence had kept open the possibility for some contact with the North Koreans in South Korea while reiterating Washington's insistence that denuclearization by North Korea is a necessary condition for permanent peace.

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Moon hosted talks and a lunch with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul. There is intense interest in what their conversation will entail.

Yet despite the seemingly friendly overtures, North Korea has not put away its guns.

"I don't think the Olympic Games, or the IOC, or the Olympic Movement would think they can solve the problems of the world in an opening ceremony", he said. It then wants to convince other countries that it can still coexist peacefully with the world.

Meanwhile, Japan and the US are trying to keep up the worldwide pressure on Pyongyang.

Past "charm offensives" have been interpreted as North Korea trying to recoup from crippling sanctions on their nuclear programme, or trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its USA ally.

Other demonstrators anxious the show of unity between the two nations threatened South Korea's democracy.

Saturday's meeting also involved the North's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, who led what apparently turned out to be a 21-member delegation to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics on Friday.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is also in Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony.

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