However, some South Koreans have slammed the decision to make temporary amends with the hermit kingdom, accusing Seoul of embracing Kim Jong-un's propaganda efforts amid the nuclear and missile crisis.
"As two peace-loving nations, the Republic of Korea and America welcome the Olympic Games talks between the ROK and DPRK while at the same time remaining steadfast with the international economic pressure campaign to denuclearise the Korean peninsula", Mattis said in Honolulu.
Police used fire extinguishers to put out the fire, but the activists later stamped on Kim's photo and the flags and burned them.
Coming to construction, the government's move to impose additional mortgage curbs on owners of multiple homes to discourage excessive borrowing weighed on construction investment.
Two shipping containers full of hygiene kits languish for weeks in a Chinese port, unable to reach North Korea. These things happened at a time when Juche Thought had been carried to the extreme and the cult of personality around Kim Il-sung had reached its zenith.
The sanctions include restrictions on the employment of North Korean workers in other countries.
The organisers of the Pyeongchang 2018 winter games are desperate to play down fears of an outbreak among spectators or athletes taking part in the games which starts in less than two weeks. "It's an event in response to internal demand in North Korea, not something that's suddenly being staged to target the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics", Cho argued, stressing that the parade and Olympics should "properly be viewed as separate". But 70 percent of the people still suffer food insecurity, and 2 in 5 are undernourished, according to the U.N. The aid group Care International calls it the world's most under-reported humanitarian crisis. In this context, now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity for inter-Korean dialogue provided by the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The ministry was expected to unveil the dates for the South's joint events with the North earlier in the day.
North Korea has made rapid advances in its nuclear and conventional weapons programmes in recent years.
Lewis joked that the specific prohibition covering shovels must be an "excessively conservative interpretation" of dual-use technologies that are targeted in U.N. sanctions because they can have both peaceful civilian and lethal military uses.
Perry said the U.S. government had estimated that the nuclear facility in Yongbyon in North Korea could have produced enough plutonium for six nuclear bombs if it had started operating. The U.N. resolutions on North Korea specify they're "not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences".
Asked about the possibility of military conflict on the Korean Peninsula, Perry gave a strong warning on potential devastation in the region.
South Korea will be the first host country to not wave its own flag at the opening ceremony.