Combined Korean team ready to shed politics in Olympic debut

Combined Korean team ready to shed politics in Olympic debut

It will be an extraordinary moment for Koreans, and it comes just 24 hours after the opening ceremony.

This photo, taken on February 10, 2018, shows Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister (L) and Kim Yong-nam, the North's ceremonial head of state (R), joining a dinner hosted by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon in Gangneung, the sub-host city of the Olympics.

All broke out in broad smiles.

Eager to put a reality check on the thaw in relations, Pence will meet Friday morning with North Korean defectors and pay respects at the Cheonan Memorial in Seoul, which honours the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack attributed to the North.

"They were fresh but a bit weird to me", university student Kang Gwang-mo said. Vice President Mike Pence, in Pyeongchang to lead the USA delegation, was not impressed, however. North Korea state media today confirmed the sacking of the country's military chief Hwang Pyong So, after Southern reports said he had been fired for corruption.

The younger Kim's trip to the South marks the first time that a member of the North's ruling dynasty has visited since the Korean war, which ended in an armistice in 1953. There was another handshake.

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.

That is the assessment of a former South Korean government minister and political experts who say the North has used the Games to drive a wedge between South Korea and its U.S. ally and to potentially ease pressure on its sanctions-crippled state.

Meeting ends between SKorean leader, N. Koreans
Vice President Mike Pence who sat just a few feet (less than a meter) away and seemed to make an effort not to acknowledge them. The North has refrained from further provocations since testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in November.

An inter-Korean summit would be the third of its kind, after Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il met the South's Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively, both of them in Pyongyang. After the game Saturday, the team stood on the ice as Moon, Kim Yo Jong, IOC president Thomas Bach and other government officials perched on the bench for a short meeting. North Korea also boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both held in Seoul.

"North Korea is skilfully driving a wedge between the US, Japan and South Korea".

But US Vice President Mike Pence, who was seated in the same box at the opening ceremony, did not interact with the North Koreans at any point, US officials said.

The North Korean delegates later Saturday may attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament in Gangneung. They thought it would deprive South Korean athletes of playing time. "It is important to move forward with the drills as planned", Abe said, according to South's presidential Blue House. Korean athletes marched with a flag showing the whole peninsula at nine global events, including the Olympics and Asian Games.

Athletes from North Korea and South Korea marching under the same flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games was a significant symbolic moment for many.

A unified Korean women's ice hockey team, first of its kind in the Olympic history, has won the hearts of millions on Saturday night, despite a 8-0 loss to the Sochi bronze victor Switzerland in their debut at the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

But Pence continued, calling the North Korean parade "an ongoing provocation".

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