Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong - attending as a special envoy for her brother - extended a rare invitation yesterday to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang. Between the lunch and talks, they spent nearly three hours together.
The first liberal president in a decade, Moon has repeatedly said since his election in May that he'd be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong Un if that would help solve the North's headlong pursuit of a nuclear arsenal that can target the US mainland.
Moon oversaw Seoul's preparations for the 2007 inter-Korean summit talks, only the second-ever such leadership confab, between Roh and Kim Jong Il, the late father of Kim Jong Un. Moon has been invited to visit Pyongyang for what may become the first top-level summit in over a decade.
Hundreds of anti-North Korea protesters scuffled with riot police hours not far from the main stadium before the opening ceremony was due to begin, with some of their banners reading "Moon regime is leading Korea to destruction".
Kim Yong-nam, who was also present, told Moon before the start of the performance that he could now return to his country carrying "hope that they will meet again" as platforms for such talks have been established.
His boss was Roh Moo-hyun.
Moon is the political heir to the "sunshine policy" of engagement that Kim Dae-jung and Roh espoused.
He also reiterated the Trump administration's stance that the United States would take whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland", including military operations, as it seeks to denuclearise the North.
Meanwhile, 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.
Guterres was also in "the same general area" as a number of other North Korean officials including Kim Yo Jong, "but they were never in any personal contact with each other", Haq said.
These officials said that while Pence did not greet Kim Yong Nam, he didn't deliberately skip over him.
On the eve of the opening ceremony, the North carried out a massive military parade in Pyongyang to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People's Army and demonstrated what appeared to be ICBMs.
The father of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released from prison in North Korea past year, has said the North is "not really participating" in the Winter Olympics.
The North Korean delegation also included the country's 90-year-old nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, who was expected to attend a VIP reception before opening ceremony. Instead of eating with Moon and the other dignitaries, Pence ate with the American athletes.
Both neighbors have said they wanted to reunite, but North Korea has insisted that any negotiations be done independently and without intervention from foreign powers, especially the U.S. The Trump administration has said it would not fully back a dialogue until North Korea agreed to stop testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, which North Korea saw as vital to protecting it from a potential U.S. invasion. Those photos quickly went viral.
In barely a month since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un surprised the world and said his nation was ready to join the Games, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has delayed military exercises, feted Kim's sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North. Communications director Jarrod Agen tweeted a laudatory review of Pence's evening: "VP stands and cheers for US athletes".
Decked out in red tracksuits and woolly hats, North Korea's cheerleaders sang "uri nun, hana da" (we are one) and clapped in flawless unison as local hip hop artists rapped on a stage behind them and K-Pop blared over the loudspeakers in a stark clash of cultures. The United States fought with South Korea and maintains tens of thousands of troops and an "ironclad" agreement to protect its ally. "He cheered for the U.S.", the official said.
"The Koreans will think it's a mood kill", said Frank Jannuzi, an expert on East Asia at the Mansfield Foundation in Washington.