When South Korea president Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, at Friday night's opening ceremony, many thought it was more than a polite gesture. Before traveling to the region earlier this week, Pence said the goal was to bolster ties with South Korean and Japanese leaders while isolating the North.
The protesters set the flag alight along with a portrait of Kim Jong Un, whose sister was due to watch a Northern musical display with the South's President at a nearby theatre in Seoul.
However, the rapprochement of the two Koreas has angered conservatives, especially among younger South Koreans who, unlike their parents, have grown up in a cosmopolitan democracy and have fewer ties to the North. Her presence is the latest move in an extraordinary show of Olympic diplomacy with Seoul that could prove to be a major challenge to the Trump administration's hard-line Korea policies.
Pence said Friday that the US would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says it's too early to tell if any of the overtures between North and South Korea during the Olympic Games are creating a chance for peace on the Korean Peninsula. In addition to sending 22 athletes to compete at the games in Pyeongchang, North Korea also deployed a 229-strong all-female cheering squad to root for both nations.
It's the final stop on a six-day trip that Pence had hoped would increase pressure on North Korea as it seeks to use the games to pursue an opening with the South.
It is obvious that Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, has intensified his dialogue offensive to win over South Korea.
A Unification Ministry official in Seoul said that Pyongyang is believed to have said during discussions that it will not receive the fuel supply in order not to cause any trouble to South Korea.
The two Koreas remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
Kim Yo-jong told Moon that relations would improve quickly once he meets with her brother.
North Korea has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate away its nuclear and missile programs in return for relief from worldwide sanctions.
Social media was quick to point out that Mr. and Mrs. Pence did not stand when the athletes from North Korea entered the stadium.
Moon should make efforts to hold fast to the US-South Korean alliance.