By Nick Butler at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium

Incheon 2014 was declared over tonight in another blaze of political significance ©AFP/Getty ImagesA surprise appearance from a delegation led by a duo considered the second and third most powerful men in North Korea was the defining moment of tonight's Closing Ceremony of Incheon 2014 as the Asian Games were declared closed for another four years.

Hwang Pyong-so, vice-marshal of the Korean People's Army, and leading politician Kim Yang-gon, are considered by many to be subordinate only to Marshall Kim Jong Un.

Given the build-up to these Games was littered with questions over whether North Korea would compete before the Opening Ceremony was headlined by a rousing reception for those North of the border, it was not surprising the neighbouring country came to the fore again.

But with the two Koreas still officially at war, the diplomatic significance of the almost unprecedented visit was huge, with the duo also meeting with leading South Korean officials and being greeted by Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah.

It can be taken as a further example of the Asian Games bringing a sense of harmony to the continent in troubled times, a theme that was constantly reiterated once the Ceremony began.

North Korea sent a high profile delegation to tonight's Closing Ceremony ©AFP/Getty ImagesNorth Korea sent a high profile delegation to tonight's Closing Ceremony
©AFP/Getty Images

Although there were many traditional moments, with aspects of Korean culture including the national sport of taekwondo paid homage to, the presence of K-Pop acts Big Bang and CN Blue received the best reception from the virtually full house here in the Stadium.

The presence of a mass of athletes, who followed out Flagbearers from all 45 competing National Olympic Committees before staying in the infield area for the rest of the evening, was another highlight, with competitors from different nationalities milling together, dancing and posing for selfies.

Leading the way, so far as athletes were concerned, was Kosuke Hagino, the Japanese swimmer who won four gold medals here after an epic rivalry in the pool with China's Sun Yang and South Korea's Park Tae-hwan.

He was awarded the Samsung MVP (Most Valuable Player) award by Sheikh Ahmad after being chosen by accredited media out of eight nominees.

Sheikh Ahmad then delivered a rousing address, praising athletes, volunteers, officials, journalists and sponsors, before officially declaring the Games closed.

"As tradition dictates, I call on the Asian sports family to gather again in four years' time in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta," he concluded.

The Indonesian Flag is raised to mark the transition to the next host nation ©Getty ImagesThe Indonesian Flag is raised to mark the transition to the next host nation ©Getty Images

Given that Jakarta was only officially awarded the Games a fortnight ago, the handover segment that followed was particularly impressive and a clear highlight of proceedings.

It incorporated many cultural components unique to Jakarta, as well as the regions of South Sumatra and South Java, in a way that was not attempted with regard to Incheon, with striking costumes, dances and music also featuring prominently.

The OCA Flag, together with the Flag and Torch for the first Asian Games in 1951, was then passed over to the next hosts before the Incheon 2014 Flame was extinguished.

It brought to an end a Games which have experienced ups and downs and some shaky moments, but have, overall, been a strong advertisement for Asian sport and an effective way to bring the continent together at a time of much struggle and adversity.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
September 2014:
Nick Butler: Incheon 2014 has a charm unique to the Asian Games
September 2014:
 Japanese newcomer overhauls freestyle favourites to light up day two at Incheon 2014
September 2014: Jakarta confirmed as host city for 2018 Asian Games
September 2014: Sport has to "partner up with politicians running this world", claims Bach
September 2014: Cheers for North Korea from home crowd as Incheon 2014 declared open