S. Korean president's approval rating stays high ahead of Winter Olympics

South Korean President Moon Jae-in left poses while meeting with South Korean short-track skaters in January

South Korean President Moon Jae-in left poses while meeting with South Korean short-track skaters in January

"I thought things would be odd and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar", Kim said while proposing a toast at Sunday's dinner, according to Moon's office.

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure in her brother's government and the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made only a brief appearance at a reception marking the start of the Winter Olympics on Friday, avoiding a potentially awkward encounter with the ceremonial leader of North Korea attending the same event, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Analysts say the North's decision to send her to the Olympics shows eagerness to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

Pence shook hands with other leaders, including close ally Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but not Kim Yong Nam, according to a Blue House pool official.

It is rare for the North's official media to refer to the South's leader as president, usually describing them as chief executive or similar, and even more unusual for a picture of them to be shown.

North Korea showcased new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) it tested past year and a new type of short range missile during Thursday's large military parade, analysts said on Friday (Feb 9). Moon had earlier met Kim Yong Nam during a dinner he hosted for visiting dignitaries.

Critics say it's unclear whether revived dialogue between the Koreas could lead to immediate breakthrough on the nuclear stalemate when it seems unlikely that the North would be willing to give up its nukes under any deal.

After arriving at the South's ultramodern Incheon International Airport- the North's flagship airline is subject to sanctions - she traveled to Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony, where the North and South Korean athletes marched together behind a blue-and-white "unification" flag for the first time in more than a decade.

The Koreas previously held summits in 2000 and 2007, both hosted in Pyongyang by Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's late father.

As if to drive the point home, Kim Jong Un used the eve of the Olympics to throw a massive military parade in Pyongyang that was highlighted by several huge intercontinental ballistic missiles rolled out in launcher trucks. They are part of an extraordinary diplomatic push by the North aimed at using the Olympics to ease tensions with Seoul and bolster unity between the two Koreas after a year that has been marked by escalating fears of war and increasing angry rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington.

But the military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday added to critics' doubts in the South over the sudden rapprochement, which follows a series of weapons tests.

Pence is in South Korea, where he is leading the US delegation to the games' opening ceremonies.

In stark contrast, two kinds of kimchi - the fermented cabbage that features in every Korean meal - were on the menu for lunch, a Blue House official told AFP, one mild Northern style version and a spicier Southern recipe.

The two sides also fielded a joint women's ice hockey team, the first unified Olympic team between South Korea and the DPRK.

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