Unified Korean ice hockey team proves that 'winning isn't everything'

Luge athlete Erin Hamlin will carry the flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea

It capped a whirlwind 24 hours that began with the opening ceremony and included a lunch at the presidential mansion between Moon and Kim Yo Jong, the powerful Kim sister who came bearing the blue folder.

In South Korea for the start of the Winter Olympics Friday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with defectors from North Korea - accompanied by the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died after his release from captivity there past year.

Mr Moon's office says Mr Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, came to the South as his special envoy.

The game was a mismatch pretty much from the opening faceoff, though you would have never known it by the constant noise made by tightly choreographed North Korean cheerleaders and the much looser fans from the South. "I thought things would be odd and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar", Kim said while proposing a toast at Sunday's dinner, according to Moon's office. Female ice hockey players from both Koreas will compete as one team.

Still, North Korea's participation in the Olympics and the invitation has raised hopes that a thaw in relations could lead to a substantive agreement.

Some members of Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party opposed his visit to South Korea, due to the Moon administration's stance on the comfort women issue.

Outside, on an evening cold enough to freeze breath, South Koreans of all generations gaily waved flags of a unified Korean peninsula.

"The two Koreas may have the same ethnic background, but have gone totally separate ways for such a long time without barely any interaction, so there can be misunderstandings over trivial things", he told Reuters. The squad includes two Americans with Korean heritage: Randi Griffin of North Carolina, whose jersey will bear her Korean name, Heesoo; and Marissa Brandt of Minnesota, who plays under the name Park Yoonjung - and whose sister, Hannah, is on the USA hockey team.

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The 1994 Games in Lillehammer, where temperatures plunged to -2.7C (27F), holds the record, but the mercury is not expected to creep above zero during the first few days of competition in South Korea. Those rules mean, without question, that a 90-year-old male head of state, should sit in the best seat.

It will be cold and colorful, dramatic and risky, exciting and emotional - the 2018 Winter Olympics is bursting into life in South Korea. Moon and Abe met Friday hours before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. It has only deepened over the years as the North closes in on the ability to field an arsenal of nukes that can hit US cities.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults and threats of nuclear war as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.

"The North Koreans should understand that for a summit or any kind of serious talks to occur, Moon needs to be able to take something to Washington - something that addresses denuclearization", he said.

"South Korea stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States and our allies in continuing to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically", Pence said.

As recently as January, Pyongyang called for "all Koreans at home and abroad" to "promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea".

Her arrival on Kim's private jet with a coterie of 22 officials was broadcast live on South Korean television. The Korean teams had been combined - three North Koreans were playing on the merged team. But though it was the North Koreans who shouted the loudest in support of this new team, there have been benefits to both countries.

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