South Korea's self-styled "Peace Games" have been a sporting success, but public reaction suggests Seoul may have failed its bigger test — to generate the support the president needs to make bold moves to improve ties with old enemy North Korea.

President Moon Jae-in has been using the games to help galvanize the public behind his risky policy of re-engagement with the North, an approach that in the past has ended in disappointment.

A government official voiced surprise at how young South Koreans, who are among Moon's core supporters, declined to embrace some of his peace push, which featured a joint women's ice hockey team made up of players from South and North.