The two Koreas marched together and South Korea’s president shared a historic handshake with Kim Jong Un’s sister as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opened in a spirit of intense rapprochement on Friday.
At a glittering but sub-zero ceremony, South and North Korea brought the crowd to its feet as they entered behind the blue-and-white Korean unification flag.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook the hand of a smiling Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as he entered the VIP seating section, and again as the Korean athletes marched.
Despite efforts toward peace through sport, politics will always continue, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) commented Saturday, in reaction to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s apparent ignoring of a historic joint march by the two Koreas at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Pence was among world leaders who attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in PyeongChang. Also present at the event were Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Pyongyang’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam.
Korean Unity, Historic Handshake As Pyeongchang Olympics Open
In a symbolic gesture for unity, the two Koreas marched together under a unified flag. Pence was seated during the joint march while South Korean President Moon Jae-in IOC President Thomas Bach and many world leaders gave standing ovations.
“Politics will continue. I’ll leave politicians to comment about politics. But the opening ceremony for us was a great symbolic moment,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said at a press conference at the Olympic Main Press Centre in PyeongChang.
Albeit not in the capacity of heads of government, Yo-jong and Kim had seats in the VIP section along with Moon, Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — the leaders of the countries keen on compelling Pyongyang to change course toward denuclearization. Neither Pence nor Yo-jong looked at or shook hands with each other.
Pence also avoided encountering Kim Young-nam on Friday during a reception dinner hosted by Moon ahead of the opening ceremony, underscoring chilly relations between Washington and Pyongyang. Moon’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan later explained that Pence was scheduled to hold a separate dinner with U.S. athletes and insisted that the vice president’s early departure was not a boycott. (Yonhap)