Hannah Bloch

The 2018 Winter Olympics ended Sunday evening in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a closing ceremony featuring fireworks, K-pop performances, the reappearance of Tongan cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua sans shirt, and a dance party that brought athletes onstage, eager to let loose and celebrate their games.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics concluded Sunday evening in South Korea. The closing ceremony saw fewer athletes than the opening event 17 days ago — some Olympians have already gone home — but didn't skimp on pageantry, K-pop and expressions of hope for peace between the two Koreas.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the U.S. president, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sat near a visiting North Korean general, Kim Yong Chol, believed to be a former spy chief, whose delegation had earlier been met with a sit-in by conservative South Korean lawmakers near the border crossing.

By the time the first week wrapped up at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the powerful, icy winds that earlier disrupted or delayed competition had largely calmed. Norway's team led in medals, with 19, and Germany won more gold — nine medals — in the first week than any other country.

The U.S., meanwhile, earned eight medals by Friday, including five gold. Snowboarder Redmond "Red" Gerard, a 17-year-old who overslept on the day of his event and had to borrow a too-big jacket after he couldn't find his own, clinched Team USA's first gold medal last Sunday.

Beginning with fireworks and ending with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, Pyeongchang's Winter Olympics opening ceremony, called "Peace in Motion," took place Friday evening amid gusts of wind and frigid temperatures.

Watching inside the Olympic stadium was a crowd of more than 30,000 — including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Vice President Pence sat nearby.

"Not everything in Saudi Arabia is black and white," says photographer Dina Alhamrani, one of 11 Saudi artists whose work is featured in an exhibition this week at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, called "Women's Point of View," features the creations of students and recent graduates in visual communications from Jeddah's all-female Dar al-Hekma University.

As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look at powerful photos from around the world that tell some of the year's most important stories.

Even with unprecedented national developments crowding our news feeds all year, the NPR Parallels blog readers have kept a keen eye on dramatic events unfolding worldwide — and the U.S. role in the world. North Korea's nukes, the aftermath of President Trump's first military strike in Yemen, Russia's kompromat tactics and South Korea's ongoing efforts to seek justice for comfort women were some of the stories you were most interested in.

Three years ago, we published a story about a small start-up in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, that was seeking to make homes more sanitary by replacing dirt floors with sealed earthen floors, which are up to 80 percent cheaper than concrete.

Nawaz Sharif, who served until Friday as the 18th prime minister of Pakistan, is no stranger to his country's courts. In three tumultuous go-rounds as premier over the past 27 years, he's been embroiled repeatedly in judicial cases on charges ranging from corruption and contempt to terrorism and treason.