The sight of North and South Koreans marching together for the first time in a decade was the culmination of months of work by Seoul.
Instead, they said, Kim simply wasn't seated in the area where Pence was receiving well-wishers.
Three years later the conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula divided by the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone and the two sides technically in a state of war.
Pence was seated between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's 90-year-old nominal head of state, seated a row behind.
Two of North Korea's most senior officials were sat directly behind South Korea's president during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games, which have provided some respite from the tense relations between the two countries. He left Moon's reception after only five minutes, without taking a seat at the head table or interacting with North Korea's ceremonial head of state.
We wanted the North Koreans to see the vice president, Abe and Moon sitting directly in front of them for the Opening Ceremonies, and it would show that that alliance is strong.
Park said Saturday that the systems had been "normalized" without giving details.
The two Koreas marched in behind a white flag that was emblazoned with a map of the Korean peninsula depicted in blue. Later on, two athletes from the joint Korean women's hockey team handed off the Olympic torch to former Olympic figure skater Yuna Kim, arguably the most famous person in South Korea, according to the AP.
Pence is viewing the short-track competition, in which eight Americans are participating.
People were confusing the name of the town with North Korea's capital of Pyongyang.
Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, verbally delivered the invite to Moon on Saturday.
The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programme past year and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.
President Trump has traded insults with North Korea's leader and has led efforts to slap sanctions on the country for its refusal to yield to worldwide pressure to halt its nuclear weapons program.
But President Moon has resisted pressure from the Trump administration by sending overtures to Pyongyang.
He adding that the North Korean leader was "on a suicide mission" in continuing to develop a nuclear weapons programme.
Moon's office says Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, came to the South as his special envoy.