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Like writing in a stick of rock, the message that mankind can live in harmony ran through every dance routine, song and dazzling light show.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in described these Games as a “festival and celebration of peace,” and the competition’s curtain-raiser certainly set the tone.

The show of unity was not lost on International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who said North and South Korea had set a “great example” for sending “a powerful message of peace.”

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The lead up to these Winter Olympics has been dominated by relations between two nations still technically at war. After a year of escalating hostility over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program, this Olympics has given the two countries reason to talk again.

No matter how affecting the message of the host nation’s first night, it would be fanciful to think that a sporting occasion such as this can bring about a truce between a Korea divided since 1953, but it was an evening filled with symbolic moments.

As the Korean athletes marched together, President Moon shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. She is the first member of Pyongyang’s ruling dynasty to set foot in the rival country since the war.

To add to the political intrigue, US Vice President Mike Pence, sitting a few seats away in the same VIP booth, looked stony faced as the ceremony unfolded.

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