On February 9, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were present in PyeongChang, South Korea, for the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
NBC had a live stream of the Opening Ceremony earlier today, beginning at 6 a.m. Eastern. Because of the time difference between the United States and South Korea, the Opening Ceremony will air in primetime, 15 hours after the event actually took place.
As you can see in the photo above, Vice President Pence and his wife were seated one row in front of Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister. Sitting in the same row as Pence was South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
According to the Associated Press, Pence did not have any interaction with Kim Yo Jong during Friday’s festivities, held at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.
Social media was quick to point out that Mr. and Mrs. Pence did not stand when the athletes from North Korea entered the stadium. However, a White House official told the Associated Press that the Pences did not stand for any country’s athletes outside of Team USA.
The 2018 Opening Ceremony saw North and South Korea entering the stadium together under one flag, held by Chung Guam Hwang of North Korea and Yunjong Won of South Korea.
“Athletes from the two countries entered the PyeongChang Olympic stadium together, joined hands, and marched under the Korean Unification flag, which displays the entire Korean peninsula in blue against a white backdrop. It was a rare but not unprecedented spectacle. The two countries first displayed the flag at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships and most recently at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy,” according to Vox.
Tensions between the two countries are high, but the unity amongst the athletes “offered hope for peace,” according to the New York Times.
The site also pointed out that Fred Warmbier, the father of American student, Otto Warmbier, was at the event. Warmbier was jailed in North Korea for over a year after he was accused of tearing down a propaganda poster at the Yanggakdo International Hotel. In 2017, Otto Warmbier was returned home, but he was in very poor health. He died just days later.
While the athletes in North and South Korea seem to be putting their differences aside to come together for the Winter Games, Pence is holding his ground. In an interview with NBC’s Nightly News, Pence spoke about taking action against any upcoming nuclear threats posed by North Korean.
“We’re going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically, while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens,” Pence said. “President Trump and, and our allies in the region have agreed to delay our, our military exercises until after the Olympics. And, you know, President Moon, has appreciated that. But we’re gonna make it crystal clear that our military, the Japanese self-defense forces, our allies here in South Korea, all of our allies across the region, are, are fully prepared to defend our nations and to take what is — action is necessary to defend our homeland,” he added.
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