Olympic ceremony 'a symbol of how things might be'

Gendered arrangement but is this so different from Western entertainers?     EPA-EFE  YONHAP

Gendered arrangement but is this so different from Western entertainers? EPA-EFE YONHAP

The young North Korean leader and his sister were favourites of their father, who ruled North Korea from 1994-2011.

In a reception ahead of the ceremony, Mr Moon said: "Athletes from the two Koreas will work together for victory, and that will resonate with and be remembered in the hearts of people around the world as a sign of peace".

Yet the hostilities of a divided peninsula stood not just in the background, but on full display in the dignitaries' box, where U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence sat only a few metres from Ms. Kim - close enough to exchange greetings.

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. The vice president wanted to show the "alliance was strong" by sitting with Moon and Abe.

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The 2018 Winter Olympics officially began Friday when a parade of athletes entered the Olympic stadium, including athletes from North and South Korea who marched together behind a blue and white Korean unification flag.

US Vice President Mike Pence also attended the Games opening ceremony but had no contact with the North Korean delegation.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Saturday with a delegation from North Korea that includes Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. During the trip, Pence has kept up pressure on the north over its nuclear ambitions and human rights record. And yet, last night's opening ceremony was in itself a diplomatic achievement.

While a summit in Pyongyang would signal warming ties on the peninsula, it also risks driving a wedge in the alliance between the USA and South Korea.

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North and South Korea are still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce.

Moon has been pressing the North to engage with the United States to de-escalate tensions between the countries, which have been fueled by a string of nuclear tests that were met with strong rhetoric from President Donald Trump.

The South Korean President also stressed the need for the Communist North to resume its dialogue with the US.

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 U.S. ally. Senior political figures from North Korea and U.S. - two of the countries at the centre of the political row - were both present.

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A sense of peace built within the Olympic Stadium as the event neared conclusion.

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