Despite global calls for #KoreanPeace and hopes that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence would use his trip to South Korea for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games to engage in diplomatic talks to ease rising tensions with North Korea, Pence remained icy toward the country's delegation.
As he left the Olympics on Saturday, Pence told reporters aboard Air Force Two that he was "encouraged" by his talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and claimed "there is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear ballistic missile program"—despite the radically different approaches Pence and Moon took regarding North Korea's presence at the games.
While Moon both met and attended events with Kim Yo Jong—the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a key representative for the country at the Olympics—Pence declined to acknowledge her, even when they were seated near to each other:
South Korea's President Moon received on Saturday a historic invitation to visit North Korea, @benstracy reports on @CBSThisMorning. Vice President Pence spoke with Moon hours later https://t.co/MMyY8XICAG pic.twitter.com/wYsFVzxDh2
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 10, 2018
Pence's blatant refusal to engage in diplomacy came as a clear rejection of demands from around the globe that he use his presence at the Olympics to de-escalate nuclear tensions that have ramped up since President Donald Trump took office. Pence instead reiterated messages the world has come to expect from the Trump administration on the topic of North Korea; he vowed to impose the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions "ever," insisted the country was trying to "hijack the message and imagery" of the games, and stayed seated as the joint team of athletes from the two Koreas entered the Opening Ceremony on Friday.
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) February 10, 2018
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US media usually portrays North Korea as too stubborn and proud to allow for #KoreanPeace
— HOBAK (@BayAreaKoreans) February 10, 2018
— CODEPINK (@codepink) February 10, 2018
This years #OlympicTruce Mural has been installed in the Olympic Villages to show that walls don’t have to divide us but can be symbols of peace and unity. The mural is designed to highlight the unifying power of the Olympics!#2018평창 #평화올림픽 #휴전벽 pic.twitter.com/jbrIYgFu8U
— PyeongChang 2018 (@pyeongchang2018) February 5, 2018