Kim Jong Un’s sister set to go to South Korea in Olympic delegation
Kim Yo Jong was promoted by her brother last year to a new post in the North’s ruling party.
The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be part of the high-level delegation going to the South for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Seoul has said.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said North Korea informed it on Wednesday that Kim Yo Jong would be part of the delegation led by the country’s nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam.
Seoul has said the delegation is due to arrive on Friday.
Kim Yo Jong was promoted by her brother last year to a new post in the North’s ruling party that analysts said showed her activities are more substantive and more important than previously thought.
As well as Kim Yo Jong, the first vice director of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, the delegation will include Choe Hwi, chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee, and Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North’s agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.
Kim Yo Jong, believed to be in her late 20s or early 30s, is thought to be one of Kim Jong Un’s closest confidants. They were born to the same mother, Ko Yong Hui.
The war-separated rivals are co-operating for a series of conciliatory measures during the Olympics, which Seoul sees as an opportunity to ease tensions with Pyongyang following an extended period of animosity over its nuclear weapons and missiles programme.
Sceptics think the North is trying to use the Olympics to weaken US-led sanctions and pressure against the country and buy more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles programme.
North Korea has 22 athletes competing in the Winter Olympics but has also sent artists and a cheerleading squad.
A decision by South Korea to send the artists by sea has triggered debate in the South, where conservatives saw the move as a sure-fire sign that the North is trying to use the Olympics to ease the pressure against the country.
Seoul is reviewing whether to meet Pyongyang’s request to provide fuel to the ferry that transported the artists. Seoul exempted the ferry from sanctions to allow it in South Korean waters.
“We will closely discuss with the United States and other related nations the matter of providing convenience to the Mangyongbong ferry so that no problem regarding sanctions would occur,” Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said.