Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force Two as he returned from watching the opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, Pence said he was encouraged by his own meeting with the South Korean president. This was not supposed to be, as some in Seoul grumble, the "Pyongyang Games", a play on the North Korean capital's phonetic similarity to Pyeongchang. The vice president also drew criticism from some openly gay members of Team USA, who questioned his role at the Olympics due to his anti-LGBT views.
Both of those South Korean presidents had struggled under growing domestic criticism after their trips to Pyongyang had resulted in large shipments of aid and investment but failed to end the North's nuclear weapons program.
Analysts say the North's decision to send her to the Olympics shows eagerness to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.
Pence's tweeted day-after position: 'The U.S. will not allow the propaganda charade by the North Korean regime to go unchallenged on the world stage'.
They won't be the only cheer squad at the Olympics.
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Following the meeting, Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement, "The Vice President is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions". "There are some who would not want to be in the same room together if it wasn't for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics". "They're a bit old fashioned. but it was meaningful that we shared this moment together".
As First Vice-Director of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Kim has been an increasingly prominent figure in North Korea's leadership and is considered one of the few people who has earned her brother's absolute trust.
As the North Korean squad chirped encouragement like "Unify the motherland!" and "Win, win, our athletes win!", the women from the south gyrated to pop music, exposing a cultural gap every bit as wide as the scoreline on the ice.
Cyber security researchers said in January they had found early indications that Russia-based hackers may be planning attacks against anti-doping and Olympic organisations in retaliation for Russia's exclusion from the Pyeongchang Games.
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During an Olympics reception and at the sporting event's opening ceremony, Pence was not trying to avoid North Korean officials in attendance, the senior administration official told reporters on Saturday, adding that he was trying to ignore them.
"The Koreans will think it's a mood kill", said Frank Jannuzi, an expert on East Asia at the Mansfield Foundation in Washington.
Moon is desperate to use the games as an opportunity to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into talks over resolving the worldwide standoff over its nuclear program.
But Pence was acutely aware that by rebuffing a potential opening with Pyongyang, he was also rebuffing Moon, thereby risking widening the rift in the U.S. I have never seen that before.
"The distance between Pyongyang and Seoul has become closer in our hearts", Kim Yo Jong wrote.
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