South Korean president meets Kim Jong-un's sister - RTHK
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South Korean president meets Kim Jong-un's sister

2018-02-09 HKT 20:36
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  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from bottom right, and Kim Yo-jong standing in the top row. Photo: AP
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in, second from bottom right, and Kim Yo-jong standing in the top row. Photo: AP
The sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, who is on a historic visit to the South for the Winter Olympics, shook hands with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the opening ceremony on Friday night.

Kim Yo-jong, the first member of the North's ruling dynasty to visit the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953, met Moon when he arrived for the opening ceremony in a pentagonal arena in Pyeongchang.

In an extraordinary show of unexpected unity, they sat under exploding fireworks that represented peace, not destruction, as the 2018 Winter Olympics opened on a Korean Peninsula riven by generations of anger and suspicion.

The two watched an elaborate show of light, sound and human performance. Its aim: to tell the epic story of Korea — not North, not South, but the entire land.

After years of frustration, billions of dollars and a nagging national debate about their worth, the opening ceremonies took place before a world watching the moment not only for its athletic significance and global spectacle, but for clues about what the political future of the peninsula could hold. A delegation from North Korea, dressed in identical garb, watched from an upper deck of the stadium.

Then began the Olympic tradition that takes place at every Games — the march of athletes from the world's many nations, girded against a frigid Korean night and temperatures that dipped below freezing with biting winds.

The political intruded on the games at several turns as South Korea put on a frigid show for the world that's meant to display a newfound desire to cooperate with rival North Korea along with Seoul's stunning rise from poverty and war to an Asian powerhouse.

After a chaotic year of nuclear war threats and nuclear and missile tests from the North, it was a striking visual moment.

The rival Koreas, flirting with war just weeks ago, are suddenly making overtures toward the no-longer-quite-so-absurd notion of cooperation.

The North has sent nearly 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games including officials, athletes, artists and cheerleaders after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures to mark the games. More than 2,900 athletes from 92 countries will compete here, making it the biggest Winter Olympics to date. (AP & AFP)