As the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang that saw the two Koreas come together - if briefly - came to a close on Sunday, another potential sign of détente emerged; North Korea said it was willing to hold talks with the United States, according to South Korea's presidential Blue House. But though she sat in front of Kim Yong Chol, she was not scheduled to meet with the North Korean delegation during the weekend trip.
The group ended a three-day visit to the South in which it repeatedly expressed its willingness to talk with the USA, reports Efe news.
Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party, expressed that willingness when he met with Moon shortly before the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Moon's office said. Though Pence stood to cheer the entrance of the US team, he remained seated when the athletes from North and South Korea marched together behind a "unification" flag, leaving Moon to instinctively turn around and shake Kim's sister's hand.
The U.S. and North Korea have been in a standoff over the communist regime's pursuit of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles capable of striking the American mainland.
"So they want to talk", the president said at the White House, claiming that was a "first" and adding: "We'll see what happens".
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is likely to meet the delegation but the White House ruled out the possibility of talks between Kim and USA representatives.
The North's delegation took a different route, prompting the opposition Korea Liberty Party to accuse Moon's administration of "abuse of power and an act of treason" by rerouting the motorcade to shield it from the protest.
But it was too early to take the North's comments as a major breakthrough. The athletes from South and North Korea walked as one team during the opening ceremony.
Kim Yo Jong and the North's nominal head of state were the most senior North Korean officials to visit the South in more than a decade.
Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, did not interact with the North Korean delegation, a senior USA administration official said.
But the North Koreans pulled out at the last minute, according to Washington. That, in part, is believed to have led to the North Koreans' cancellation of their meeting with the vice president.
But experts say arranging an inter-Korean summit would be hard after a year in which North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test and flight-tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could, when perfected, target the USA mainland.