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Pence Sits During Korean Delegation at the Olympic Opening Ceremony

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night in Pyeongchang were filled with sights both surprising and at times, confusing. North Korea and South Korea temporarily put aside their differences and stood together as a unified Korean team but it was U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's reaction to the Korean delegation's entrance that had most people talking.



Speculation online was high as to whether Pence was sitting out the Korean team's entrance in honor of the American college student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released from prison in North Korea last year, and in support of Warmbier's father, Fred who was also in attendance as a guest of the Vice President or if there was another reason.

Pence spoke about inviting Warmbier's father and what he felt it symbolized:


Others thought Pence wanted to convey a specific message to North Korea:


Though Pence's Olympic visit has been peppered with political posturing targeted at North Korea, including a meeting Friday with North Korean defectors, the inclusion of Fred Warmbier, and his missed attendance a state dinner near the Olympics site, which some have speculated was done, at least in part, to avoid spending time with the North Korean delegation—there were those who disliked what they saw as unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of the VP:




Others found the idea of a Pence protest hypocritical and drew parallels between the Vice President remaining seated in defiant protest (if, that was actually what he was doing) and the kneeling protests held by NFL players during performances of the national anthem on game day.

Taking time to reference his walkout on the kneeling protest at the Colts game back in October:





But there were also those that applauded Pence's actions:



But according to an anonymous White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly but spoke to the Associated Press:

Pence stood only for the U.S. team, despite other people in the box standing and applauding when athletes from the two Koreas walked in together.