For several days, US Vice President Mike Pence shared the Olympic stage with a high-profile member of North Korea’s Kim dynasty, Kim Yo-jong. Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, was the first member of the Kim dynasty to visit the South in decades, and her presence transfixed TV audiences around the world.

Vice President Pence had originally been scheduled to meet with Kim Yo-jong and her delegation from the North. This in itself is an interesting revelation, because it suggests that, despite the sanctions, UN posturing, and threats of a ‘bloody nose,’ the US administration is still angling for a negotiated de-escalation should the stars align that way. But the talks never materialized. Two hours before they were supposed to take place, Yo-jong pulled out of the meeting.

For Yo-jong, the mission was already accomplished: North Korea had been presented as a status-quo world power at the games, and North-South dialogue had veered back toward the Peninsula thanks in part to a high-profile snub of the US administration.