The figure skater Yuna Kim lit the torch. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The crowning moment of any opening ceremony: the final leg of the torch relay and the lighting of the Olympic caldron. Inbee Park, the golfer, was one of the final torchbearers. Two members of the mixed North and South Korean women’s hockey team, Chung Su-hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea, carried the torch up the stairs. And the hero chosen for the highest of Olympic honors was ... Yuna Kim, the profoundly popular figure skater who won the gold medal in 2010 and the silver in 2014. She is a beloved celebrity in South Korea and often referred to as Queen Yuna.
Athletes from North and South Korea carrying the unification flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The unified Korean team marching out as one. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Unified Korean team heard cheers, but not from all.
A unified Korean team of athletes marched out together carrying the unification flag as the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, watched from the stands near Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader.
The Olympics may have renewed hopes of a unified Korea for some, but attitudes about becoming a single nation again have shifted since the last time South Korea hosted an Olympics, the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. In general, younger South Koreans are less favorable toward reintegrating with the impoverished North. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of South Koreans in their 20s were against reunification. They are more interested in domestic issues, like unemployment, and some feel that reuniting the peninsula would be burdensome for the South.
The cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua of Tonga marching shirtless into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Tonga’s flag-bearer stole the show ... again.
The one-man Tongan team is the cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua. He caused a stir at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he was a taekwondo athlete, by carrying the flag shirtless and greased up. And for these frigid Winter Games ... he has done it again. A startling and perhaps foolhardy display given the weather, but the crowd absolutely roared as he made his way through the stadium. Nobody received a better reception here than Taufatofua.
The athletes from Russia entered behind the Olympic flag. Russia failed in overturning a ban against 47 athletes and coaches from participating in the Games because of a doping scandal.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
There was no Russian flag in the parade of nations.
The Olympic flag, lifted by a volunteer instead of an athlete, was carried ahead of the Russian team. Or more precisely, the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The absence of the Russian flag is part of the punishment for Russia’s state-backed doping program at the Olympics four years ago. But the Russians still have a robust team of more than 160.
Viktor Ahn missed his chance at a heroic homecoming.
Missing from the group of athletes from Russia was Viktor Ahn, a short-track speed skater of South Korean descent. He was among the athletes barred from competing in the Pyeongchang Games. Racing here would have been significant for his career. He was one of South Korea’s best skaters and won his first three Olympic golds while competing for South Korea. But after a bitter falling out with South Korean sports officials, Ahn switched his allegiance to Russia.
Team U.S.A. marching behind the flag bearer Erin Hamlin, the first female American luger to medal at an Olympics. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Vice President Mike Pence of the United States, center, with his wife, Karen, left, watched with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, right, and Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader, rear left. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Team U.S.A. walking out to the song “Gangnam Style” by the South Korean musician Psy. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Team U.S.A. walked out to ‘Gangnam Style.’
Vice President Mike Pence waved at the huge American contingent — at 242 it is the largest for any country at any Winter Games. The United States also got the chance to walk out to “Gangnam Style,” by far the most successful Korean pop song ever.
Two-time gold medalist Shani Davis stayed away.
Not everyone was pleased with the selection of Erin Hamlin as the United States’ flag bearer.
In a tweet sent Thursday night, Shani Davis, a four-time medalist in speed skating, said that the United States Olympic Committee had “dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer.”
And on Friday, he was a no-show in the Olympic Stadium for the parade of athletes.
In a vote of American team representatives this week, Hamlin and Davis had received four votes apiece. A coin flip was used as a tiebreaker, and Hamlin won.
“No problem,” Davis added in the tweet. “I can wait until 2022.”
Davis, competing at his fifth and presumably final Games, added the hashtag, “#BlackHistoryMonth2018.”
Davis did not appear with the rest of the United States long-track team at its news conference on Thursday afternoon.
That seemed to be a running theme of these Games so far. For instance, Brian Hansen, one of Davis’s teammates, tweeted out two group photos of the team on Thursday, and Davis was missing from both.
The chill in the air didn’t put a damper on the fireworks at the show. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
Some of South Korea’s leading music stars sang “Imagine” amid a sea of candles. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times
Impersonators drew a crowd during the parade.
There was some commotion in one section of the stadium midway through the parade of athletes when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un — or, rather, impersonators of them — appeared near the bottom row of stands.
There was the famous red baseball cap and red power tie. There was the famous fade haircut.
Spectators and members of the news media rushed down to snap photographs of the fake Trump and Kim, who were happy to ham it up for the cameras.