The South Korean president has been invited to travel to North Korea, following a formal invitation from the country's leader Kim Jong Un, according to a Blue House spokesman, CNN reports. He is hoping beyond all hope that a little glad-handing and symbolic deference to Kim Jong-nam (the North's head of state) and Kim Yo-jong (North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's sister) will edge a Korean rapprochement a little further down the field.
Reuters reported Saturday that newfound cooperation between the two countries, which do not now have a diplomatic relationship, began as a result of the South's willingness to allow the North to participate in the Olympic Games activities now being hosted in South Korea.
Moon was heard asking the visiting delegation "I appreciate you stayed late out in the cold, are you all well?" before the talks proceeded behind closed doors. Earlier in the week, Pence accused Pyongyang of trying to "hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games".
At the opening ceremonies on Friday, Pence sat stone-faced in his seat as Moon and North Korean officials stood together with much of the stadium to applaud their joint team of athletes.
American skaters Lana Gehring and Maame Biney enjoyed the presence of the North Korean supporters. The U.S. and the North should quickly resume dialogue, he said. "Moon should be aware that he has to urge denuclearisation to North Korea by himself, not depending on dialogue between the USA and North Korea", an editorial in the Yomiuri Newspaper read.
"The vice-president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the development.
The response was seen as meaning that there should first be progress on efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, such as talks between the United Sates and the North, before what would be a third inter-Korean summit takes place.
The invitation was delivered to Moon when the North's delegation paid a visit to him on Saturday.
"The grievances that the world has about North Korea are very legitimate", Frank Jannuzi, an expert on East Asia at the Mansfield Foundation told the AP.
"We hope that President (Moon) could leave a legacy that would last over generations by leading the way in opening a new era of unification", she said. "It's a time to focus on messages of reconciliation and peace".
There is also a school of thought that the United States put pressure on Abe to attend the opening ceremony as a show of solidarity with Washington, analysts claimed.
Equally, Shimada said, it would be hard to find a Japanese who places any trust in North Korean promises. The South Koreans want to use the Olympics to ease tensions spurred by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
That said, these officials said that if the North Koreans had approached Pence with pleasantries, he would have responded in kind.
At the start of the meeting, Lee shook hands with the North's chief delegate and then with Kim Yo-jong, as well as other members of the delegation. Dark chocolate tempered in the shape of barbed wire lay over a map of the Korean peninsula rendered in thin blue chocolate, a representation of the heavily militarised border that separates Games host South Korea and its old enemy in the North.