North Korean and South Korean athletes participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics marched as one during Friday’s opening ceremony, gleefully entering the ring as a unified team sharing a flag.
Spectators were visibly moved, HuffPost Korea reported, with some in the audience tearing up at the sight. The unified flag shows the Korean peninsula in blue, set against a white backdrop.
The only people in the VIP box who didn’t stand during the Korean team’s entrance were Mike Pence, the U.S. vice president, and Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died shortly after being released from North Korean custody, The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield reported.
The games already have became a diplomatic feat as much as an athletic one. The two Koreas have used the occasion to re-establish dialogue with one another, spearheaded by South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s desire to deflate tensions in light of the North’s growing nuclear prowess. Pence reportedly seeks to damp the spirit of reconciliation, recommending that South Korea cut ties with its neighbor after the games end.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister and North Korea’s nominal head of state were both seated behind Pence in the VIP box.