North Korean ski coach says it's 'honor' to compete in Winter Olympics

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

South and North Koreans marched together under a unified flag at the games' opening ceremony.

Later on Saturday Ms Kim, Kim Yong-nam and Moon Jae-in attended the first ice hockey match played by a unification team of athletes from both North and South Korea.

The two Koreas are technically still at war after a conflict in the 1950s ended with an armistice, rather than a peace treaty. He remained seated when the joint Korean team entered the stadium, in contrast to Moon who stood along with Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, to applaud.

She twice shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. "I thought things would be unusual 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.

Lest any potential meeting between Kim Jong Un's sister and Pence be seen as a potential breakthrough, the vice president announced en route that the US plans to unveil the " toughest and most aggressive " sanctions yet against North Korea. The riverside facility is named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a war hero in the South for his battles against the North during the Korean War. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for USA troops stationed in South Korea. They were whisked back and forth between Seoul and the Olympic towns of Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

They shared the VIP box with world leaders at the opening ceremony and joined Moon in cheering for the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team as it debuted in the women's ice hockey tournament.

Senior South Korean officials affirmed to me in Seoul that the exercises would not be canceled, but Pyongyang has warned that resumption of exercises threatens to quash improving inter-Korean relations. The organizers say that while television and internet access was affected, it "it had not compromised any critical part of their operations".

"It has to create a virtuous cycle where improvement on the inter-Korean ties can bring positive influence on the US-North Korea denuclearization talks".

"We have to convince the USA, which sees North Korea's recent moves as propaganda, of the need for talking with North Korea".

Kim Ryon Hyang of North Korea makes a turn during free skiing on the giant slalom course at the Yongpyong Alpine Center at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018.

Kim still wants assurances that the United States won't attack or try to topple his government.

President Donald Trump's administration has taken a hard line on North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program, saying there is no room for negotiations unless Pyongyang abandons it.

The North's presence has dominated the headlines in the early days of the Olympics, with all eyes turning to Swiss-educated Kim Yo-jong, believed to be 30, who is among her brother's closest confidantes.

"But it turned out that there were many things similar and in common", she went on.

Moon has always expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea. Last week, the United States said it would ramp up sanctions.