The North Korean charm offensive at the Winter Olympics appears to have paid off. Cleverly, they ensured that their ambassadors to Pyeongchang were young, female, and attractive. It worked like a dream. The cheerleaders were the centre of attention, especially when they donned their funny Kim Il Sung masks. Kim's sister Yo-jong led the way on the political front, alongside the Moranbong Band's Hyon Song-wol. As well as the publicity, they've had all the access they could hope for to the South Korean government:
A North Korean delegation led by leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong had dinner with Cheong Wa Dae chief of staff Im Jong-seok on Sunday before watching the North's Samjiyeon Orchestra perform in Seoul.
Kim Yo-jong sat next to President Moon Jae-in during the performance in what was their fourth meeting during her three-day visit.
The orchestra performed a medley of songs, with bandleader-cum-apparatchik Hyon Song-wol taking the stage to sing the finale, "Baekdu and Halla Are My Nation's."
After Hyon's song ended, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon jumped to his feet and shouted "encore!" Seo-hyun of girl band Girls' Generation unexpectedly appeared and joined the North Korean performers in singing "Our Hope is Unification," which drew thunderous applause. Seo and one of the North Korean singers embraced.
Brings tears to the eyes.
Earlier, the North Korean delegation had lunch at the Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul with Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.
Moon and Kim Yo-jong spent more than 10 hours together in meetings, at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, lunch at Cheong Wa Dae, an ice hockey match of the inter-Korean women's team and the concert.
And here they are - a calculating Kim Yo-jong, and a besotted President Moon:
As this Reuters report observes, the North has walked off with the diplomacy gold:
In barely a month since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un surprised the world and said his nation was ready to join the Games, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has delayed military exercises, feted Kim’s sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North.
“North Korea clearly appears to be winning the gold,” said Kim Sung-han, who served as Korea’s vice foreign minister in 2012-2013 and who now teaches at Seoul’s Korea University.
“Its delegation and athletes are getting all the spotlight, and Kim Jong Un’s sister is showing elegant smiles before the South Korean public and the world. Even for a moment, it appears to be a normal state.”
Meanwhile US Vice-President Mike Pence was left looking like the spectre at the feast, muttering about “no daylight” existing between the United States, South Korea and Japan, when this is clearly not the case. Nor did anyone notice the inclusion of poor Otto Warmbler's father as Pence's guest. Why would they care about a dead prisoner, amid all the North Korean glamour?
Pence cast one of the loneliest figures at the opening event. He remained seated when the joint Korean team entered the stadium, in contrast to Moon who stood along with Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, to applaud.
The Japanese PM suffered too:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who looked uncomfortable at times during the opening ceremony, irritated his hosts by telling the South Korean leader that joint South Korea-U.S. military drills should be promptly resumed after the Games.
To pave the way for the North’s participation at Pyeongchang, South Korea had delayed the annual exercises with U.S. forces, which usually take place between February and March, until after the Olympics.
The US and Japan, South Korea's nominal allies, were sidelined, while President Moon wallowed in the feel-good publicity.
In Pyeongchang, though, the two Koreas avoided talk of sanctions and basked instead in Olympic goodwill, which was nowhere more evident than on Saturday night when a joint Korean women’s ice hockey team took to the ice.
And, the final absurdity:
It inspired an American member of the International Olympic Committee to call for the team, which included 12 North Korean players, to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yes, it's true. The world's gone mad.