THE sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has shaken hands with South Korea’s president as the Winter Olympics began with an extraordinary and unexpected show of unity in Pyeongchang.

Kim Yo Jong greeted South Korean leader Moon Jae-in prior to a spectacular opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium which told the story of the entire Korean peninsula.

US vice-president Mike Pence sat just a row ahead of Kim and the North’s nominal head of state, Kim Jong Nam, as they watched the ceremony unfold.

Later, North and South Korean athletes both entered the Olympic Stadium together, waving flags of unity – the long-time dream, at least in theory, of many Koreans in the North and South.

It was the rivals’ first joint Olympic march since 2007. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach then handed the podium to Moon, who declared the Olympics officially open.

In a reception ahead of the ceremony, Moon said: “Athletes from the two Koreas will work together for victory, and that will resonate with and be remembered in the hearts of people around the world as a sign of peace.”

Bach lauded the joint march as a “powerful message”.

“We thank you,” he said. “We are all touched by this wonderful gesture. We all join and support you in your message of peace.”