South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday met with senior North Korean officials including leader Kim Jong-un's sister over lunch at Seoul's presidential palace in the most significant diplomatic encounter between the rivals in years.
"Kim Jong Un is clearly serious about reviving talks with the South to improve relations", said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korean expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a security adviser to Moon.
Kim Yo Jong, 28, is the first member of the ruling Kim family bearing the bloodline of the sacred Mount Paektu, a centrepiece of the North's idolization and propaganda campaign, to cross the border into the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Past "charm offensives" have been interpreted as North Korea trying to recoup from crippling sanctions on their nuclear program, or trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its USA ally.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon hosted the North Koreans for lunch Sunday before Moon's chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, hosted them for dinner ahead of the concert. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for US troops stationed in South Korea.
Pence endorsed a post-Olympics engagement after Moon assured him that the North Koreans wouldn't get economic or diplomatic benefits for just talking - only for taking concrete steps toward denuclearization.
The most important part of the visit, however, came during one of the quieter moments.
"We want to see President Moon become a protagonist in opening a new chapter for reunification and leave great footprints in history", she said. Moon has long argued for engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table over its nuclear ambitions, but did not immediately accept the offer.
Yet, by South Korean media accounts, it appears like it was Mr Abe who emerged the loser from the trip - though he had also the chance to raise Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and its abduction programme in a brief chat with the North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam.
Pyeongchang Olympics open with a call for unity, harmony
The U.S. delegation numbers 244 but not all athletes participated due to their training or competition schedules. But Kim Jong Un seems determined to try to divide the allies.
He said the Koreas should create an environment so that a summit could take place.
The invitation left Moon with the pressing task of convincing North Korea to engage in dialogue over its nuclear and missile programs without alienating its biggest ally, the US.
Pence also attended the Games opening ceremony but had no contact with the North Korean delegation.
Relations between the two Koreas are apparently improving after North Korea made a decision to join the Pyeongchang Olympics that began Friday, but Pyongyang has so far shown no sign of abandoning its missile and nuclear development programs.
Always flanked by thick groups of bodyguards, Kim Yo Jong commanded attention wherever she went, walking among throngs of journalists with a quiet poise and occasionally shooting an enigmatic smile at cameras.
Kim Jong Il traveled to Beijing to meet then Chinese president Jiang Zemin before the summit.
Moon has always expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea.
"If they all step back at same time, then DPRK's 70th anniversary on September 9, or the 11th anniversary of the Declaration for the Development of Inter-Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity on October 4, is good timing for the historic meeting", said the professor, who is optimistic about the third summit between the DPRK and South Korean leaders.
US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.
This story has been corrected to show that the North Korean delegation stayed at the Walkerhill, not Wakerhill, hotel.