Kim Yo Jong, the 28-year-old sister of the North Korean leader, will be sitting in the same stadium as VIP guests along with ceremonial head of state She will be the first member of the Kim family to cross the border into the South. Kim Yo Jong is a propaganda official and was blacklisted last year by the U. S. Treasury Department over alleged human rights abuses and censorship.
The Games are taking place amid tension over North Korea's nuclear programme, the BBC reports. Pence said to reporters that President Moon had given Washington a strong reassurance of their support for the harsh measures to pile pressure on Kim Jong Un and his administration so that he can abandon his weapons program and finally achieve a fully denuclearized Korean peninsula.
"I think this overture towards South Korea is partly sanctions-related, and also related to the fact that it's clear a divergence has developed between Washington and Seoul's most keenly desired goals in the near term", said Andray Abrahamian, a research fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS in Hawaii.
Despite the North's expressed lack of interest in meeting with Pence, the New York Times reported on February 6 that while speaking to reporters in Alaska during a stopover on his way to Japan and South Korea, the vice president did not rule out contact with North Korean officials when he attends the Olympics, saying, "I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens".
Kim Yo-jong was earlier considered part of a high-level North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, but Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said she was here as a special envoy of the North Korean leader.
That said, these officials said that if the North Koreans had approached Pence with pleasantries, he would have responded in kind.
Pence and Abe arrived at the pre-reception together but were forced to wait for Moon in a separate room because they arrived late, according to a South Korean report.
Valery Sharifulin\TASS\Getty Images Spectators
Some 2,925 athletes from 92 countries are participating in the games. With cameras filming it all, young South Korean men did a breakdance and an all-female North Korean band played songs recognizable on either side of the Demilitarized Zone.
South Korean media have been speculating about whether Kim Jong will send a personal message to Moon through his sister and, if so, whether it would include a proposal for a summit between the two leaders.
The North Korean delegates later Saturday may attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament in Gangneung.
North Korea announced last month that it would hold a big event to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military.
The visual was important, a United States official said.
"We have no intention to meet the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea", Jo said in a terse statement reported by state-run news agency KCNA.
Welcoming Pence to the presidential Blue House, Moon took the opportunity to highlight the visit of the North Korean officials to the games, calling them "Olympic Games of peace". Pence is taking the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died previous year after being imprisoned in for 17 months. They may also see a performance by a visiting North Korean art troupe in Seoul on Sunday before flying back to Pyongyang.