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Mike Pence seated near Kim Jong Un’s sister during Olympic opener


It was more ice and awkward than fire and fury.


Vice President Mike Pence was seated in close proximity to Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea on Friday.


Pence was seated among world leaders including South Korean President Moon Jae In for the festivities in Pyeongchang, where athletes marched into the stadium in freezing weather as part of a program called “Peace in Motion.”


Kim’s visit to the games marks the first time that a member of North Korea’s ruling dynasty has visited their southern neighbor since the Korean War.

Pence meets with North Korean defectors ahead of the Olympics


The opening ceremony saw North Korea athletes march under the same flag as South Korea, part of a mini-detente in the lead up to the festivities that saw the resumption of talks that had stalled for more than two years.


Moon and Kim made a short, historic meeting at the ceremony, though it was not clear if Pence and the representative of the isolated kingdom had any interaction.


Pence also attended a dinner hosted by Moon where the head of North Korea’s delegation, 90-year-old Kim Jong Nam, also attended.

Performers celebrate the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

(Natacha Pisarenko/AP)


The Vice President and those around him have said “we’ll see” when asked about meetings between him and those from Pyongyang, though North Korea has said it is not interested in meeting U.S. officials.

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Pence, who has promised more sanctions on North Korea, met with defectors from the country and also brought along the father of American student Otto Warmbier, who died after being kept in a North Korea prison.


A focus on diplomacy comes as a striking contrast to the last six months of the crisis over North Korea’s unsanctioned nuclear program, which saw threats of war lobbed back and forth between Kim Jong Un and President Trump.


Beyond the diplomatic dances in the VIP box, the opening ceremony of what Moon dubbed a “Peace Olympics” saw a dizzying array of dancers and pyrotechnics in the cold temperatures.


Other highlights during the parade of nations into the stadium included the U.S. team arriving to the ubiquitous 2012 hit “Gangam Style” and the flagbearer for Tonga, skier Pita Taufatofua, carrying his country’s banner shirtless.


Taufatofua’s stunt was a repeat of his entrance to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where he competed in taekwondo.

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CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN

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