"We are not going to use such a sports festival as the Winter Olympics as a political lever", a top Foreign Ministry official said Thursday, the North's state-run media reported.
Analysts say that with the dual approach, the North is looking to normalize its status as a "de facto nuclear state", and could be trying to weaken sanctions against it or drive a wedge between the South and its ally the U.S.
Speaking earlier in the day in Japan, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a very different speech, stating, "We reaffirm our commitment to continue well beyond the Olympics - when the Olympics are long a distant memory - to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically". "And we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all".
Officially the delegation will be headed by Kim Yong-Nam, who leads the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the North's rubber-stamp parliament, and will attend the Games' opening ceremony.
"As far as the situation with Korea, it is firmly in the diplomatic lane", Mattis told reporters at the White House, when asked if the prospect of conflict with Pyongyang was any nearer than when Trump took office a year ago.
Organisers of the Games said Wednesday that athletes from North Korea and Iran would not benefit from the distribution of 4,000 of the Olympics Special Edition of its Galaxy Note 8. "This raises worries that North Korea likely intends to use this Olympics as a propaganda tool, rather than a possible opening to meaningful dialogue with South Korea".
"By holding the military parade a day before the Olympics and showing off its military power made me doubt Kim Jong Un's intentions", said Lee Young-wook, a protester from Seoul.
He also ratcheted up his rhetoric on the North's human rights abuses in a speech to US service members at Yokota Air Base in Japan.
South Korean President Moon is hoping to translate the Olympic cooperation into deeper engagement with Pyongyang. But South Korea has been flexible with these rules as it accommodates the North Koreans to the Pyeongchang Games. The parade did not appear to include North Korea's full arsenal of missiles.
Nevertheless, the situation on the peninsula remains tense and it is unclear how long any respite in tensions will last after the Games, especially when the U.S. and the South resume their delayed joint annual military exercises - a perennial irritant for Pyongyang.
All the while, the three countries must together confront a North Korea problem that Straub says really hasn't changed.
Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong were born to the same mother, Ko Yong Hui.
South Korean officials claimed that the smartphones could potentially be used for military purposes, violating the United Nations sanctions that ban providing the countries with luxury goods and products for such use. "Regarding North Korea, all participants are requested not to take the phones back to their home country", the spokesperson added.
Enthusiastic and optimistic about Kim's unexpected overture last month, South Korea rushed to respond, without consulting the USA, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that the US was notified only a few hours before Seoul offered to meet North Korea for negotiations.