Pope says unified Korean team at Olympics offers hope for peace

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A spokesperson for the vice president said that Pence did not come across the North Korean delegation during the reception.

Speaking to NBC's "Nightly News" on Thursday, the vice president continued to stress that the United States would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland". South Korean participants included senior officials Jeong Eui-yong, Jo Myong-gyoon and Im Jong-suk - the chief presidential secretary.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

Sources told CNN that the sending of ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam and Kim's sibling Kim Yo Jong reads as more of a symbolic act than any concrete diplomatic initiative by North Korea.

Moon's desire to engage North Korea was in contrast to his USA ally.

Pence is leading the USA delegation to the Pyeongchang Games' opening ceremonies and will also participate in symbolic events meant to shine a spotlight on North Korea's nuclear program and human rights abuses.

Kim Jong Un hasn't set foot outside North Korea or met a single head of state since he assumed power upon the death of their father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

Pence's trip began in Japan, stopped in Seoul, and culminated with his visit to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

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Kim Yo Jong, second from right, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sits alongside Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament, at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

The first liberal president in a decade, Moon during his inauguration speech a year ago that he would be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong Un if that helps solve the nuclear problem.

Shortly after North Korea invited the South Korean leader, Pence's office issued a statement. They said Pence could have opted to sit with the U.S. delegation and avoided the box that included the North Koreans.

The report could not immediately be confirmed, but pictures showed both Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong at Seoul railway station taking a high-speed train to Gangneung - along with the South's unification minister, who is in charge of relations with the North. He is congratulating South Korea on hosting the games and pledges continued US support to address the North's nuclear threat.

"President Moon and I reflected last night on the need to do something fundamentally different", Mr. Pence said.

To recap, the President sent the Vice President to a football game featuring the 49ers, a team that would definitely be protesting during the anthem, and then launched a plan to literally grandstand (there were bleachers and everything) with a huffy exit.

The North Korean delegates later Saturday may attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament in Gangneung.