Pence says there is "no daylight" between United States and South Korea

Tonya Becker
February 11, 2018

Outside, many locals wore the joint team's jersey with "KOREA" emblazoned across their chests and waved mini unification flags - a pale blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula. South Korea was already the lowest-ranked team before the addition of 12 less experienced players from North Korea, and only qualified as the hosts. He then recalled his past visit to the North's Diamond Mountain resort, where he and his mother met his North Korean aunt during a temporary reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

A rare invitation to Pyongyang for South Korea's president marked Day Two of the North Korean Kim dynasty's southern road tour Saturday, part of an accelerating diplomatic thaw that included some Korean liquor over lunch and the shared joy of watching a "unified" Korea team play hockey at the Olympics. As hockey goes, well, it was grand political theater. Sung said, according to Reuters. "Moon has been very accommodating to North Korea's desire to join the Olympics late, and that has been seen as deeply unfair". He has referred to the games as the "Olympic Games of peace". So, too, did the problems of integrating the required minimum of three North Koreans on the squad in just a few days time.

An early shot by North Korea's Han Soojin might have made a statement, if not altered the outcome.

Fans roared every time a Korean got the puck on her stick, and Han Soojin almost put the team on the board with a shot from the left circle that hit the crossbar early in the first period. But as the loss deepened - Korea finally lost to Switzerland 8-0 - it was hard to find a silver lining. This was more about finding a sliver of hope in relations between the two bitter rivals than it was about chasing dreams of Olympic glory. Two players, one South Korean and the other North Korean, appeared on the opening ceremony and climbed stairs together with the Olympic torch that they handed to Olympic champion figure skater Yuna Kim.

Kim Yo Jong, who is thought to be about 30 years old, entered the meeting with the president carrying a blue folder with the North Korean crest embossed in gold on the front, which she carefully laid on the table in front of her.

"We are one, " the crowd chanted during breaks in the action.

What did seem clear was that, deliberately or not, the North Korean government had managed to edge its way onto center stage during the South's biggest global moment in years.

On Friday night, a huge crowd gathered in the freezing Olympics Stadium as performances displayed the sweep of Korean history and culture. I assume they knew that message was coming. "They all had the same jersey on".

It took some doing to get to this point, even after North Korea agreed at the last minute to send athletes to the Winter Olympics. However, "If they [the North Koreans] had approached him (in the box) he would have responded", added the official.

But everyone was politically correct afterward.

Moon has been a fervent advocate for opening talks with North Korea, a sentiment largely not echoed in Washington, although in a call with Moon last month, President Donald Trump "expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at the time.

When it was over it seemed no one wanted to leave the ice.

There is a palpable excitement in this isolated, rugged mountain town, as one of the poorest, coldest and most disgruntled parts of an otherwise prosperous South Korea kicks off two weeks of winter sports, spectacle and, from the looks of things, some inter-Korean reconciliation.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article