Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, were on hand for the Opening Ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But what you can’t see in Pence’s tourist photos is the North Korea delegation, which was seated right behind him:

An incredible honor for Karen and me to lead the U.S. Delegation at the @Pyeongchang2018 Winter Olympic Games. The Opening Ceremony was extraordinary, and we wish ALL THE BEST for our @TeamUSA athletes. #TeamUSA #VPinAsia

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 10, 2018

Hopefully Pence did this on purpose:

The opening ceremony photo that Mike Pence tweeted has his head entirely obscuring Kim Yo Jong's head.

— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 10, 2018

The woman over Pence’s right shoulder is Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean despot Kim Jong-un:

They stood not 10 feet apart in a V.I.P. box, but Vice President Pence avoided Kim Jong-un’s sister at the Olympics.

— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) February 10, 2018


— Michael Madden (@Michael_NKLW) February 9, 2018

The cameras even caught this “deadly side-eye” from Kim Yo-jong:

Kim Jong Un's sister with deadly side-eye at Pence.

— Philip Bump (@pbump) February 10, 2018

Even better? The Pences, along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, refused to stand when the North Korean team entered the arena with the South Korean athletes:

Pence, Abe give a pass to standing during entrance of joint Korean Olympic team.

— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) February 10, 2018

Cue the Kaepernick comparison:

For a guy who gets so mad about someone taking a knee, he sure is comfortable taking a butt.

⚡️ “Mike Pence takes a cue from Kaepernick and refuses to stand for Team Korea” #Olympics #OpeningCeremony

— Karen DaltonBeninato (@kbeninato) February 10, 2018

huh. it's almost as if Mike Pence is cool with not standing at a sporting event as a form of protest…nah, that can't be right.

— way gayer, way different, way snipy (@snipy) February 9, 2018

Yes, they are, actually:

You guys can't be this stupid. You can't. Right? Comparing Pence sitting as a form of protest to NK's dictatorial, inhumane regime to Kaepernick kneeling for the flag of HIS OWN country? You don't ACTUALLY think that works, right?

— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) February 10, 2018

There were fireworks earlier in the day after Pence and Abe reportedly showed up late to a dinner hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in that included senior North Korean official Kim Yong-nam. Pence and Abe missed the group photo and Pence refused to shake Yong-nam’s hand:

VP Mike Pence’s visit to South Korea:

– he and Abe missed the group photo organized by Moon, Olympic host/US ally

– stayed at Moon’s reception for only five minutes, didn’t shake the North Korean’s hand.

– remained seated when the host nation team entered (with NK athletes)

— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 9, 2018

South Korea was already concerned about “Korea passing” — the idea that the U.S. is more concerned with Japan (and China) and doesn’t care about S.Korea. Pence’s visit was welcomed for the attention but his actions will only increase that sense here.

— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 10, 2018

Japanese PM Abe – no friend of SKorean president Moon, a sharp critic of NKorea – respected his host by staying for the reception dinner and greeting the North Korean at the top table (although Abe joined Pence in remaining seated as the Koreas entered the stadium)

— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) February 10, 2018

Pence’s office denied there was any intentional snub, however. From CNN:

Vice President Mike Pence did not deliberately snub North Koreans at an Olympic reception, according to US officials who pushed back on South Korean reports that Pence deliberately came late to a VIP gathering Friday evening and then snubbed officials from Pyongyang.

Officials traveling with Pence to the 23rd Olympic Winter Games in South Korea were responding to reports that Pence had gone around a main table and greeted everyone except Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state. These officials said that while Pence did not greet Kim Yong Nam, he didn’t deliberately skip over him. Instead, they said, Kim simply wasn’t seated in the area where Pence was receiving well-wishers.

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