February 08, 2018

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has become the first member of her family to visit South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War, as part of a high-level delegation attending the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Arriving on her brother's white private jet for a three-day visit, Kim Yo-Jong and the country's 90-year-old nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam are scheduled to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday in a lunch at Seoul's presidential palace.
Dressed in a black coat, carrying a black shoulder bag and hit with a barrage of camera flashes, Kim Yo-jong smiled as a group of South Korean officials, including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, greeted her and the rest of the delegates at a meeting room at Incheon International Airport.
The North Koreans - also including Choe Hwi, chairman of the country's National Sports Guidance Committee, and Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North's agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs - then moved down a floor on an escalator to board a high-speed train to Pyeongchang.
Moon has been trying to use the games as an opportunity to revive meaningful communication with North Korea after a period of diplomatic stalemate and eventually pull it into talks over resolving the international standoff over its nuclear program.
Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess
The last time a South Korean president invited North Korean officials to the presidential Blue House was in November 2007, when late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, the political mentor of Moon, hosted then-North Korean premier Kim Jong-il for a lunch following a meeting between the countries' senior officials.
Sceptics say North Korea, which is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons under any deal, is just using the Olympics to poke holes at the US-led international sanctions against the country and buy more time to further advance its strategic weaponry.
Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess
The North Korean delegation's arrival came a day after Kim Jong-un presided over a massive military parade in Pyongyang that was highlighted by the country's developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles, which in three flight tests last year showed potential ability to reach deep into the US mainland when perfected.
South Korean media have been speculating about whether Kim will send a personal message to Moon through his sister and, if so, whether it would include a proposal for a summit between the two leaders.



'Sweet, sweet Yo-jong'
Kim Yo-jong, believed to be around 30, is the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit the South since the Korean War.
As first vice director of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Kim has been an increasingly prominent figure in North Korea's leadership and is considered one of the few people who has earned her brother's absolute trust.
She was doted on by her father, Kim Jong-il, who reportedly called her “sweet, sweet Yo-jong” and “Princess Yo-jong.”
Analysts say the North's decision to send her to the Olympics shows an ambition to break out from diplomatic isolation and pressure by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.
Her visit will undoubtedly attract international attention during the games and North Korea might also be trying to craft a fresher public image.
South Korea has yet to announce a confirmed schedule for the North Korean delegates aside of their participation in the opening ceremony and Saturday's lunch with Moon.
Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess

There is a possibility that they would attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament on Saturday, hours after their meeting with Moon. They could also see a performance by a visiting North Korean art troupe in Seoul on Sunday before heading back to Pyongyang.
The North has sent nearly 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the war-separated rivals agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games.
Moon, a liberal whose presidential win in May last year ended a decade of conservative rule in Seoul, has always expressed a willingness to reach out to the North. His efforts received a boost when Kim Jong-un in his New Year's Day speech called for improved ties between the Koreas and expressed willingness to send athletes to Pyeongchang.
This led to a series of talks where the Koreas agreed to have its delegates jointly march during the opening ceremony under a blue-and-white "unification" flag and field a combined team in women's ice hockey. A North Korean art troupe also performed in Gangneung on Thursday and will perform in Seoul on Sunday before heading back home.
Critics say that South Korea while cooperating with its rival over the Olympics allowed itself to play into the hands of the North which is apparently trying to use the games to weaken sanctions.
South Korea allowed the North to use a 9,700-ton ferry to transport more than 100 artists to perform at the Olympics, treating it as an exemption to maritime sanctions it imposed on its rival, and is now considering whether to accept the North's request to supply fuel for the ship.

Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess
While neither Kim Yo-jong nor Kim Yong-nam are among the North Korean officials blacklisted under UN sanctions, the US Treasury Department last year included Kim Yo-jong on its list of blacklisted officials over her position as vice director of the ruling Workers' Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department.
The UN committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea has proposed granting an exemption for Choe, who has been on the UN sanctions blacklist since last June.

Kim Yo-jong's rise to prominence
Kim Jong-il, the ruler of North Korea until his death in 2011, proudly boasted in 2002 that the then teenage Kim Yo-jong, his youngest daughter, wanted a career in politics.
Now believed to be in her late twenties or aged 30, she has emerged as one of the most important figures in the North Korean political elite.
Her rise has been nurtured by Kim Jong-un, her brother and the current ruler of North Korea, who also shares the same mother as his sibling - Ko Yong-hui. They had a half brother, Kim Jong-nam, who was murdered last year at a Malaysian airport.
Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess
Kim Jong-un and his sister developed their close relationship living under the same roof together when they studied in Switzerland between 1996 and 2000, years which were marked by isolation.
The Kims resided in a heavily guarded private home during their time in Berne, according to North Korea Leadership Watch, a website run by academic Michael Madden.
"A school employee thought Kim was “overprotected” by “several women” that waited on her and drove her to school," the website added.
Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess
After Kim Jong-un assumed power in 2011, his sister was occasionally seen in the background of official photographs of him attending events.
In 2014 Kim Yo-jong was appointed vice-director of the propaganda and agitation department, a position which put her in charge of carefully crafting Kim's image as a man of the people.
But last November she was elevated to North Korea's reclusive politburo, replacing her aunt in the country's top decision-making body.
Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea: What we know about the North Korean ‘princess
South Korean media speculated last month that she may also have been promoted again to lead the rogue nation’s powerful state security apparatus.
The Chosun Ibo newspaper said that her role may have been indicated in December by her seating position at the ruling Worker’s Party congress.
Kim Yo-jong has now become one of the most high-profile women in North Korean public life, along with the leader’s wife, Ri Sol-ju.
But her position as a key political figure and trusted confidant of Kim Jong-un was underlined when it was announced that she would become the first member of the Kim family to go to South Korea.
Little is known of Kim Yo-jong's private life, but she reportedly married the son of Choe Ryong-hae, the powerful party secretary, in 2015, and had a child soon after.
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