Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Opening ceremony – Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium – Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 9, 2018 – Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attend the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
8:52 AM 02/09/2018
Vice President Mike Pence is steering clear of North Korean officials at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
South Korea hosted an Olympic reception prior to the start of the Games Friday. Pence was expected to sit across from North Korea’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam at the head table, but that didn’t happen. Pence stopped by for a quick five-minute visit, during which he greeted everyone at the table with a firm handshake, everyone except the representative from North Korea, according to a Washington Post reporter.
Pence and Kim reportedly avoided making eye contact, according to South Korean media.
At the opening ceremony, the vice president was seated only a few feet from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong, but the two did not interact.
When North and South Korea marched in together under a unified banner at the opening ceremony, everyone was on their feet and cheering loudly, but Pence and his wife remained seated.
ALSO WATCH: Defector Describes What Shocked Him Most About Life Outside North Korea
Before the opening ceremony, Pence followed in the footsteps of President Donald Trump and met with several North Korean defectors. “We thought it was important to make sure the truth is told,” he said, “As these people and their lives testify, [North Korea] is a regime that imprisons, and tortures, and impoverishes its citizens.”
The South Korean government is trying to use the Olympics to mend strained bilateral ties with the North, however, Pence is leading a counteroffensive against North Korea’s so-called “charm offensive,” reminding the world of North Korea’s human rights atrocities and brutality.
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