But the North was welcomed with open arms to what South Korean President Moon Jae-in called "Olympic games of peace". But the message to come at a "convenient time" from dictator Kim Jong Un, delivered by his visiting younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, is part of a sudden rush of improving feelings between the rivals during the Pyeongchang Olympics.
There is a palpable excitement in this isolated, rugged mountain town, as one of the poorest, coldest and most disgruntled parts of an otherwise prosperous South Korea kicks off two weeks of winter sports, spectacle and, from the looks of things, some inter-Korean reconciliation. "I just want the unified team to do well in these Olympics". The ongoing rapprochement mood flared after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's Day address that he was willing to send an Olympic delegation.
Moon, in a statement, said athletes from North and South will "work together for victory".
The lunch Saturday at Seoul's presidential mansion between Moon and Kim Yo Jong was the most significant diplomatic encounter between the rivals in years.
Among the previously incomprehensible scenes seen in the last 24 hours at the Olympics was this one: After the game the top North Korean officials and the South Korean president joined Bach in greeting the Korean players and posing for pictures with them.
North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam also partook in the historic luncheon with Moon.
At the opening ceremony, Pence and the North Koreans, who were seated in the row behind him, studiously ignored each other, even as Moon and his wife turned around to greet the North Koreans warmly.
At the 2003 University Games in Taegu, accusations that local right-wing groups had "ransacked" bedrooms and stolen underwear at the North Korean delegation's hotel prompted the cheerleaders to down pom-poms in protest.
The vice president also met with North Korean defectors while in Pyeongtaek.
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Bruce Rauner and then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "And being firm on that is, I think, what Canadians expect of me". Not unlike Obama, Trudeau's progressive policies make him an easy punching bag for the US right.
"He [Pence] could have sat with the US delegation and avoided the box but he chose not to.knowing the North Koreans would be seated behind him", said a USA official.
"We hope to see you in Pyongyang at an early date", Kim Yo Jong told Moon after delivering a personal letter from her brother, according to officials.
"The distance between Pyongyang and Seoul has become closer in our hearts", Kim Yo Jong wrote.
Moon responded that he would try to make it happen, the spokesman said. Officials didn't reveal what was written in it.
After meeting with Moon, the North Korean delegates boarded a bullet train to Gangneung, a coastal city hosting some Olympic events.
North Korean supporters cheer during the preliminary round of the women's hockey game between Switzerland and the united Korean team.
Pence's office didn't directly address Kim's invitation to Moon. Coach Sarah Murray played three North Korean forwards as required in the deal that created the team; she had to scratch three of her South Korean players.
"We are going to continue to stand together, along with our other allies and partners, to continue to intensify the economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea until they permanently abandon their nuclear, ballistic missile program", Pence told reporters aboard Air Force Two on a return flight to the United States. Many in Seoul, however, while interested in the warming high-level contacts, are also tempering expectations for a real breakthrough.
There's worry, too, that the proposed summit in Pyongyang may come with preconditions - a North Korean specialty. A big one could be a demand to cease the U.S. -South Korean war games that North Korea claims are preparation for invasion.