Pence Reaffirms US Commitment to Longtime Ally South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Yo-jong a sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the opening ceremony of the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic Games in the city located some 180 kilometers east of Seoul on Feb. 9

Photo A statue outside the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.

The ceremony, conceived by creative directors Song Seung Whan and Yang Jung Ung, highlighted passion and peace - as reflected in the Games slogan "Passion.Connected" - as well as traditional and modern characteristics of Korea.

USA vice president Mike Pence was also on hand in the pentagon-shaped and roofless 35,000-seat stadium, where spectators were given a package with hand warmers, heat pads, a wind cape and a hat to help keep warm in the sub-minus temperatures.

Barely a month after rumblings of war on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang leader Kim Jong-Un threatening to rain nuclear destruction on the United States, North Korean athletes will march into the opening ceremony alongside South Koreans for what is touted as the "Peace Olympics".

Kim Yo Jong, vice director of the ruling Workers' Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department, is a highly important North Korean figure whose influence can not be measured simply by her party ranking or title.

North Korea announced it was to send a delegation to Pyeongchang in January after it met its South counterparts in their first high-level talks in more than two years.

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North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from U.S. aggression. But North Korea has a habit of not letting itself be ignored when it comes to its southern rival.

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Many South Koreans support the thaw with the North, but protesters insist that the South has been too generous, saying North Korea's Kim has been allowed to hijack the Games.

Before departing for Pyeongchang, Abe said co-operation between Japan, the US and South Korea on North Korea's nuclear threat remained strong.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, in his speech, alluded to doping by calling on athletes to "stay clean".

After years of frustration, billions of dollars and a nagging national debate about their worth, the opening ceremonies took place before a world watching the moment not only for its athletic significance and global spectacle, but for clues about what the political future of the peninsula could hold. "Only then will your lifelong memories be the memories of a true and worthy Olympian". That saw the final torchbearer Yuna Kim, who won Olympic ice skating gold in 2010, at the top of a slope light the flame as 30 fire rings ascended towards the white moon-shaped porcelain cauldron.

Fireworks lit up the sky over the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, where North Korea's all-female cheering squad were among the crowd, as the gala event started.

Great Britain's team consists of 58 competitors, with short track speed skater Elise Christie and freestyle skiers James Woods and Izzy Atkin all in with good chances of picking up medals.

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