North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-un has asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang at the "earliest date" possible for what will be a third inter-Korean summit, Kim's sister told the South Korean leader on Saturday.
As the opening ceremony began, she and South Korean President Moon Jae-in exchanged a historic handshake and spoke briefly. Former Olympic champion figure skater Yuna Kim lit the cauldron.
"Our government is being taken in by North Korea's strategy to incapacitate sanctions", he said.
Still, it wouldn't be South Korea if people weren't asking the perennial question when it comes to North Korea changing gears and showering its rival with apparent affection: What's in it for Pyongyang?
Some North Korean experts believe tough United Nations sanctions that are cutting off most of the isolated regime's sources of revenue might pressure Pyongyang to further engage with Seoul.
A massive military parade in Pyongyang on the eve of the just-opened Pyeongchang Games has been used as Exhibit A by skeptics.
Pence is leading the US delegation to the opening ceremonies, where he has worked to pour cold water on warming ties between the two Koreas.
Even so, there's also cautious optimism, or curiosity at least. "No one else in leadership can bring messages directly to Kim Jong Un".
However, there are tensions between US scepticism and the optimism of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who wants to use the Games to improve relations with the North and open the door to eventual talks on its weapons programmes. Jo Yong Sam, department director general of North Korea's foreign ministry, said Thursday the country had never "begged the USA for dialogue" and wasn't about to start now.
Along with the rest of the North's senior delegation, Kim Yo Jong was to have lunch with Moon at the presidential Blue House.
Moon hosts luncheon for N. Koreans
Moon has invited Kim and other senior North Korean officials to a luncheon at Seoul's presidential palace on Saturday. Neither Pence nor Abe took part in a group photo of the leaders at the reception, in which Kim stood behind Moon.
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, made some highly anticipated, heavily publicized appearances during the Olympic opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang.
Also, the photos of certain divided families from North and South Korea who were given an opportunity in the past years to meet each other will never be omitted from the memory of history. Pence and the Kims seemed to go out of their way not to acknowledge each other.
She shook hands with Moon and smiled faintly as the South Korean leader entered a meeting room at the Blue House on Saturday.
It was evident from the multiple pictures emerging from the event that Pence indeed made no discernible effort to acknowledge or engage with the North Korean delegation.
At the luncheon, Moon proposed a toast, calling for peace and "mutual prosperity" for the two Koreas.
After touring the grounds of the Cheonan Memorial with North Korean defectors and Fred Warmbier, Pence told reporters that Moon not only supports the latest round of sanctions against North Korea - part of the U.S.'s "extreme pressure campaign", but credits the sanctions with forcing the imminent inter-Korean dialogue during the Olympics.
"But I haven't been to Pyongyang", Moon said, according to comments provided by his office.
Pyongyang's participation in the winter games was agreed on last month at a rare high-level dialogue between the two Koreas in the truce village of Panmunjom.
"President Moon and I reflected last night on the need to do something fundamentally different", Mr. Pence said.
"It helps that she also appears dynamic and photogenic", he said.