But the North's participation has been undoubted PR success for the secretive regime and the inclusion of Kim Jong-un's sister in the Olympic delegation stunned the worldwide community.
"Howard", for his part, said he came for a cause of peace between the US and North Korea.
Pence said that he did not consider greeting her due to the brutality of the regime, referencing earlier comments that "more than 100,000 North Koreans as we speak are in modern day gulags".
Moon Jae-in - who has been accused by South Korean commentators of falling victim to the Northern "charm offensive" - encouraged Kim Jong-un to "accomplish this by creating the right conditions" and to "actively pursue" talks with the USA government.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who was also in South Korea for the Olympics opening, said on Wednesday the US was open to talks with Pyongyang but only to convey that it must give up its nuclear weapons.
Relations between North and South appear to be improving. The administration of US President Donald Trump rejects such a suggestion, maintaining that talks are not an option until the North ends its nuclear and missile programmes.
As Bethany Mandel pointed out here, it's a disgrace that the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was fawned over by the global press and favorably compared to Vice President Mike Pence because he refused to play along with that evil regime's charm offensive. If Moon accepts the invitation, then this would pave the way for what could be the third meeting of the inter-Korean summit between the two countries.
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The United States also remains leery of North Korea's "charm offensive".
With their easily recognizable red coats, the North Korean cheerleaders generated media attention on their own as they supported their country's athletes in the games.
"So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify".
North Korea's recent statement and actions are a stark departure from its usual, bellicose rhetoric, and that has prompted White House officials and foreign-policy experts to be cautious about the overtures.
"Frankly I think this view is too naive".