North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent an invitation via his sister Yo-jong to Pyongyang to President Moon Jae-in on Saturday, but sanctions against North Korea will only intensify after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang end. But the two sides rebuffed his efforts to organize a meeting between them during the games.
Later, Moon watched the joint Korean women's ice hockey team-the first ever combined team at the Olympics-take on Switzerland, joining Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal head of state, who is also visiting the South for the Games.
The delegation was led by the president of the North's Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong Nam, and included Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the North leader.
Such a high-level meeting would have been unthinkable even a few months ago, but 2018 has seen an accelerated rapprochement between the two adversaries in the run-up to the Games.
In the meantime, Moon is said to be considering the Korean invitation a summit meeting later this year.
Some set fire to a North Korean flag while others chanted "Let's tear Kim Jong Un to death" as they ripped posters of his face to shreds. The sending of North Korean athletes followed the New Year's message by the North's leader.
The apparent thaw has not been reflected in Washington, however. United States Vice-President Mike Pence was also present and led the U.S. delegation.
USA vice-president Mike Pence and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in agreed to pursue dialogue with North Korea during conversations at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Speaking on his way home from the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Mr Pence said there was "no daylight" between the two allies on the issue.
"I am very confident, as President Trump is, that President Moon will continue to stand strongly with us in our extreme-pressure campaign", Pence told NBC in an interview, maintaining all options were open to deal with the crisis.
The delegation will return to Pyongyang later today.
South Korea said it would seek ways to continue engaging North Korea, including trying to arrange more reunions for families divided by the war and lowering military tensions.
"We don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past. You can see it in Pence's face if nothing else", said Van Jackson, a former policy adviser to the USA secretary of defence.
Precautions need to be taken against a situation in which a rift would emerge in worldwide efforts to contain North Korea, while there is no progress being made on the North Korean nuclear issue.