But as North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim's brother has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power, operating Nazi-style prison camps, repressing political opposition and even executing senior officers and his own family members in an effort to consolidate power.
North Korea has sent a delegation of 22 athletes to compete in five disciplines, with their women's ice hockey players to compete in a unified Korean team. It has dispatched a delegation of almost 500 people - mostly musicians, dancers, and an all-female cheering squad - and has been pushing its participation as a sign of willingness to work with Seoul, through greater exchanges, to ease what has been a year of very high tensions on the peninsula.
"It was a very emotional moment to get finally there after many years of hard work and many negotiations still taking place here", the German said the morning after the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Games. They shrieked in excitement as the puck dropped and a historic team stepped forward into an unprecedented night. There, at the end of a day of remarkable diplomacy, was the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, as well as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and one of his closest advisers. Speaking to NBC's "Nightly News" on Thursday, the vice president continued to stress that the U.S. would protect itself from North Korean nuclear threats by taking whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland".
Wary that the North is trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, he made a point of having no part of any of the North's brand of for-Koreans-by-Koreans detente.
But Pence has not let up on the tough rhetoric he's been delivering since arriving in Asia. And Pyongyang, for its part, testily announced it had no interest in meeting him to begin with.
Kim Yo Jong also attended Saturday's hockey match. That, predictably, was the image that North Korea's main newspaper put on its front pages.
S. Korean unification minister hosts dinner meeting for ranking DPRK delegation
Seen by some as her brother's answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump, Kim, 30, is not only a powerful member of Kim Jong Un's kitchen cabinet but also a foil to the perception of North Korea as antiquated and militaristic. China has suggested that talks could start if the United States suspended its regular joint military exercises with South Korea, and if North Korea reciprocated by shelving nuclear and missile tests. "That's the team he's going to be cheering for all Olympics". The Swiss won 8-0.
At an Olympic dinner reception, the dessert said it all.
The ex-North Korean officer says members of the delegation will also be expected to inform on each other.
Officials traveling with Pence said it would be fair to characterize his failure to interact with the North Koreans as a mutual decision, with neither side making any public overtures.
After all the politics, Pyeongchang may soon be able to return its focus to - what is everyone here for again? - the sports.
Moon would like to bring both North Korea and the United States to the table.
Pelosi's 'DACA-buster' Speech Likely a Record-Setter for the House
By holding out on Pelosi this week, the speaker preserved for himself all avenues and, crucially, the option to do nothing at all. Pete Aguilar (D-California) and Will Hurd (R-Texas), and the Goodlatte bill preferred by the bulk of House Republicans.