At Winter Games opening ceremony, a message of peace

His son Otto died last June in Portland, Oregon, days after being released by North Korean officials who had been keeping him in jail for 18 months.

Kim Yo-jong had become the first member of the ruling Pyongyang family to set foot in the south since the end of the Korean War so her greeting with Moon Jae-in was seen as symbolic.

The handwritten invitation to President Moon was delivered by Mr Kim's influential sister, Kim Yo-jong, at a landmark meeting in the presidential palace in Seoul, as the Games opened on Saturday. The march under the unified Korean flag was the outcome of a landmark deal between the two rivals following a year of growing concerns over the North's nuclear weapons ambitions. "It is a historical issue that transcends time".

"I don't even know which players are who", Switzerland's Phoebe Staenz said.

But Pyongyang's nuclear programme will hang over any attempts to bring the countries closer together.

This year's Winter Games are taking place amid an unavoidable political context, with host nation South Korea fostering the Olympic spirit by extending the invitation to neighboring North Korea, a move applauded by the IOC. "I think the effect will only be temporary".

Moon's desire to engage North Korea was in contrast to his U.S. ally.

More news: Third-ranking US Justice Department official resigns amid turmoil

US officials have been urging South Korea to be cautious in its rapprochement with the North.

The Swiss took a quick lead in the first period amid deafening cheers for the unified Korean team after Alina Muller put a shot past goalkeeper Shin So-Jung to start the action at the crowd-packed Kwandong Hockey Center.

Since the Olympics date back to roots in Ancient Greece, the games are steeped in tradition.

Otto had been in North Korea on an organized tour when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel.

The merged team had to overcome some language barriers.

The North and South held summits in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007. Then, two athletes from the joint Koreas women's hockey team, Chung Su-hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea, climbed stairs to the cauldron with the torch. Speaking to NBC's "Nightly News" on Thursday, the vice president continued to stress that the United States would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland". "We were able to practice all parts of the opening event several hundred times except that one", said Song.

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