The handshake between the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in was highlighted as Games organisers reflected on the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Moon's office said he told Abe that the talks between the Koreas would not disrupt worldwide efforts to deal with North Korea's nuclear program.
"It was okay because you, Mr. President, were kind enough to care", Kim Yo-jong replied, according to the pool reports.
But the U.S. vice president did not shake hands with Kim Yong Nam while making a brief appearance at a leaders' reception ahead of the ceremony - although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did so.
The two wannabe leaders posed for pictures together as a symbol of thawing relations between the two nations amid tension over nuclear weapons and North Korea's missile program.
As they shook hands, the North and South Koreans spoke briefly.
Abe said he wants to make efforts to connect the success of the PyeongChang Olympics to that of the 2020 Tokyo Games.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's increasingly influential sister has become one of his closest confidantes in a country where power has always been a family affair.
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Howard said they had chose to work together "to show the world, this is what peace could look like when two leaders get along".
A White House official said Pence did not interact with Kim Yo Jong or Kim Yong Nam who were seated a row behind the USA vice president during the opening ceremony. Many in South Korea are uneasy over the unified team-and annoyed at the fact that some of their female Olympians will lose playing time to ice hockey players from across the DMZ. The North Koreans were in the room at the same time as Pence, an official said.
The Korean women's hockey team, the first in Olympic history to combine players from North and South, was routed 8-0 by Switzerland on Saturday night in its debut game, outshot 52-8 in a matchup that could have been far worse if not for the goaltending of Shin So Jung.
In dispatching the highest level of government officials the North has ever sent to the South, Kim Jong Un revealed a sense of urgency to break out of deep diplomatic isolation in face of toughening sanctions over his nuclear program, analysts say.
"This is the strongest action yet by North Korea to drive a wedge between the South and the United States", said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister and now a professor at Korea University in Seoul. -South Korea relationship. Behind the scenes, Pence was working hard to preserve at least the basic framework of unity in the alliance.
But the rapprochement pushed by the dovish Moon has angered conservatives who accuse him of being a North Korea sympathiser.
"You will inspire us all to live together in peace and harmony despite all the differences we have", said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, before Moon declared the Games open.
The women's hockey coach faced some tough decisions after negotiations led to 12 North Korean players being added to her roster on January 25. Both Pence and the North Koreans resisted Moon's initiative and avoided interacting with one another. It was their first joint march since 2007.