Combined Korean hockey team all set for Olympic debut

Combined Korean hockey team all set for Olympic debut

The invite, presented to South Korean President Moon Jae-in by Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was delivered during a historic meeting between North and South Korean officials at Seoul's presidential palace Saturday, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

Moon and Kim Yong Nam planned to return to the Games venue to watch the joint Korean women's ice hockey team - the first ever combined team at the Olympics - take on Switzerland, the Blue House said. "I wanted to show that South Korea is a small but strong country". They were also served North Korean-style fermented fish and white "kimchi" or fermented cabbage.

"Athletes from the two Koreas will work together for victory, and that will resonate with and be remembered in the hearts of people around the world as a sign of peace", Moon said in a reception ahead of the ceremony, according to his office.

But organizers of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang - which opened with a spectacle heavy with lore and symbols binding North and South Korea - have emphasized them as a chance to find a new path for neighbors frozen in a Cold War-era standoff.

Pence, who is leading the USA delegation to the Olympics, briefly encountered Kim Yong-nam at the Games but the two tried to avoid directly facing each other.

Washington is taking a much tougher line on the North than its allies in Seoul, exposing tensions that South Korean President Moon Jae-in could struggle to hide at the Olympics.

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games that began on Friday, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programmes a year ago and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.

Moon is expected to meet with Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong on Saturday at the Blue House. "They are hoping for something happening in the future", Seo said.

The meeting comes after the U.S. warned against engagement with Pyongyang.

The vice president's snub of the North Koreans - and, by extension, the host country - highlighted the divisions between the USA and South Korea on how to deal with the North. 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. Kim Yo-jong, in fact, was seated nearly directly behind the US vice president.

A survey past year by the government-run Korea Institute for National Unification found just over 70% of South Koreans in their 20s now oppose rather than support reunification.

The luncheon also includes Choe Hwi, chairman of the North's National Sports Guidance Committee, and Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.



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