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The Unified Korean flag is seen during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.
The Unified Korean flag is seen during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.
Francois-Xavier Marit/AFP/Getty Images

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The 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, in 27 photos

From a unified Korea to drones to a Trump impersonator to “Gangnam Style.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially begun. The opening ceremony was held Friday, February 9, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with all the spectacle that the event typically entails — from the lighting of the Olympic cauldron to the Parade of Nations to a series of performances that showcase the host nation’s history and culture.

Notable moments from the ceremony included North Korea and South Korea briefly setting aside political tensions to march in the Parade of Nations under a unified flag, a performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” lots of K-pop music — including the legendary Psy crossover hit “Gangnam Style,” which provided the score for Team USA’s entrance during the Parade of Nations — and the return of the shirtless Tongan flag bearer who took the Rio Olympics by storm two years ago.

The images below capture some of those moments, and much more.

In the Parade of Nations, North Korea and South Korea marched together under one flag

Unified Korea's flag bearers (North Korea's ice hockey player) Hwang Chung Gum and (South Korea's bobsledder) Won Yun-jong (left) lead the Unified Korea delegation during the opening ceremony. Sean M. Haffey/AFP/Getty Images
Unified Koreas athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

The two countries displayed rare unity during the Parade of Nations, marching together under the Korean unification flag, which depicts the entire Korean Peninsula in blue against a white backdrop. As Vox’s Alex Ward explains, “That’s rare, but not unprecedented. The two countries first displayed the flag at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships and most recently at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.”

Tonga’s fan-favorite oiled-up flag bearer made a grand reappearance

Flag bearer Pita Taufatofua of Tonga Lars Baron/Getty Images

Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua, who first made headlines during the 2016 Rio Olympics, when he served as the country’s flag bearer and marched shirtless during the opening ceremony, has returned to the Olympics once again. At the Rio Olympics, he competed in taekwondo — but at the Pyeongchang Olympics, he’ll compete as a cross-country skier. The common denominator is that he’s still the country’s flag bearer (indeed, he’s Tonga’s only Olympic athlete), and even though the temperature in Pyeongchang is much, much colder than it was in Rio, he still marched shirtless in the Parade of Nations.

“President Donald Trump” and “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un” were briefly in the house

Impersonators of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Though this pair of impersonators weren’t an official part of the opening ceremonies, they turned plenty of heads — according to USA Today, they “wandered through the lower section of the crowd near the media seating section shortly after the United States team finished its walk in the Parade of Nations” and “created a major stir” before eventually being thrown out.

One particularly notable performance featured John Lennon’s “Imagine” and a theme of peace and unity

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Artists perform during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images

“Imagine” was sung by South Korean folk singer Jeon In-kwon, indie-rock singer Ha Hyun-woo, and K-pop singer Ahn Ji-young.

The peace and unity theme was especially apparent as performers surrounded the “Imagine” singers in the shape of a giant dove

Participants perform during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

In the stands, Vice President Mike Pence sat just feet away from Kim Jong Un’s sister

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front right) sits beside Vice President Mike Pence (front second from right) and Pence's wife Karen with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam (back second right) and North Korea's Kim Jong Uns sister Kim Y
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front right) sits beside Vice President Mike Pence (front second from right) and Pence's wife Karen with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam (back second right) and Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong (back right).
Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images

As Vox’s Alex Ward explained, the seating arrangement was history-making for multiple reasons:

First, Kim is the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. It was already a huge deal that she would attend, as it possibly signals thawing tensions between the two Koreas.

And second, US and North Korean officials this high up the food chain rarely if ever get this close to one another — let alone in the midst of a tense nuclear standoff of the kind we’ve seen over the past several months.

So to have Pence and Kim sitting just a few feet away from each other — at one of the world’s most high-profile events, no less — is noteworthy.

K-pop music was an integral part of the ceremony

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09:  Performers dance during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Several popular songs were featured, accompanied by rousing, highly choreographed, and sometimes acrobatic performances.

When it was time to light the Olympic cauldron, two players from Korea’s unified hockey team carried the torch up a set of illuminated steps

Unified Korea torchbearers, North Korean Jong Su Hyon and South Korean Park Jong-ah hold the Olympic Flame before the lighting of the cauldron. Pool/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea’s Jong Su Hyon and South Korea’s Park Jong-ah held the torch together as they delivered it to the platform where the cauldron stood.

The torch was handed off to South Korean figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim to do the cauldron-lighting honors

South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na lights the cauldron. David J. Philip/AFP/Getty Images
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09:  The Olympic Cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Matthias Hangs Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na performs during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. Frank Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Before lighting the cauldron, Kim treated the crowd to a brief, artistic performance.

Fireworks erupted outside the stadium as the cauldron ignited

Fireworks erupt as the cauldron is lit with the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. David J. Philip/AFP/Getty Images

This burst was one of many that took place during the ceremonies.

At one point, more than 1,000 drones were used to create the Olympic rings over the stadium

Intel’s light show featured a record-breaking 1,218 drones shaped in the Olympic rings. Intel Corporation

According to Wired, the drone display was record-breaking due to the number of drones it used: 1,218, or four times the number that were deployed during Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl halftime show.

The American delegation entered the stadium while Psy’s “Gangnam Style” played

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09:  Flag bearer Erin Hamlin of the United States leads the team during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

American luger Erin Hamlin served as the flag bearer.

The Olympic flag was brought into the stadium by a group of Korean athletes in traditional dress

The Olympic Flag is carried during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

The main “show” was intended to “intertwine Korean history and tradition with aspects of modern culture”

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Performers are seen during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA  FEBRUARY 9, 2018: Performers during the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09:  Dancers perform "The Land of Peace" segment during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Dancers perform "The Land of Peace" segment.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
PyeongChang, Gangwon - February 9: Performers celebrate Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games with the traditional Korean dance at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium. February 9, 2018. Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Good spirits and national pride abounded

China's delegation parades during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.
The Chinese delegation.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Nigeria's athletes parades during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.
The Nigerian delegation.
Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
Japan's delegation parades during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.
The Japanese delegation.
Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
Athletes from Jamaica's delegation take a selfie as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.
Athletes from Jamaica's delegation take a selfie.
Pool/AFP/Getty Images

There was no shortage of pyrotechnic prowess, inside or outside the stadium

A participant performs during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09:  A general view of the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Outside view of fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Outside view of fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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