The Winter Games kicked off in this ski-resort town with a volatile blend of geopolitics and Olympic pageantry, foreshadowing an event in which international intrigue will provide a dramatic backdrop for sporting grandeur.
In an Opening Ceremony on Friday staged just 50 miles south of the inter-Korean border, delegations from the two Koreas walked into the stadium together under a unified flag.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier in the day called North Korea “the most tyrannical regime on the planet,” was among the attendees, along with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a surprise last-minute guest whose every move was tracked closely by the South Korean media.
The North Korean delegation, which included Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam, the country’s ceremonial head of state, sat just one row back from Mr. Pence and his wife on the dais at the Opening Ceremony. The two sides appeared to have avoided any interaction.
The ceremony itself was filled with nods to traditional Korean motifs, including the yin-yang symbol of cosmic harmony that appears on the South Korean flag. The traditional Korean folk song “Arirang,” a mournful song of longing that is an unofficial national anthem on both halves of the Korean Peninsula, played a prominent role in the proceedings.
Meanwhile, a mix of South Korean pop music, including rapper Psy’s ubiquitous global 2012 hit “Gangnam Style,” provided the soundtrack as warmly-clad…