Kim Jong-un's Sister to Attend Opening of Pyeongchang Olympics

  • By Lim Min-hyuk, Kim Myong-song

    February 08, 2018 09:23

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong will come to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

    The delegation also includes sports official Choe Hwi, and Ri Son-gwon, who chairs the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and headed the North Korean delegation to the latest cross-border talks.

    Pyongyang sent the list on Wednesday, according to the Unification Ministry. The North Korean delegation will be led by Kim Yong-nam, the titular head of state, and will stay here from Friday to Sunday.

    They are expected to meet President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae after the Olympics opening ceremony, and Kim Yo-jong is likely to carry message from her brother.

    It is the first time in the 68 years since the Korean War divided the peninsula that a member of the ruling Kim family has visited South Korea.

    Kim Yo-jong walks with her brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Pyongyang in December last year, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television.

    Kim Yo-jong is a granddaughter of Kim Il-sung, who started the war that killed 150,000 South Korean soldiers and 370,000 civilians.

    She is the youngest child of Kim Jong-il and Ko Yong-hui and has two full brothers, Kim Jong-chol, who was passed over for the succession, and Jong-un. She reportedly went to the same public elementary school in Bern, Switzerland as her brother for several years in the late 1990s.

    She is widely thought to be the mastermind behind Kim Jong-un's public image and in charge of building up the personality cult surrounding him. Her exact age is not known, but she is believed to be in her early 30s. The U.S. government puts the date of her birth on Sept. 26, 1989, but the South Korean government a year or two earlier.

    Though Kim Yong-nam is the ostensible chief of the North Korean delegation, Kim Yo-jong will likely be the real messenger. The U.S. worries increasingly that Pyongyang could "hijack the Olympics" with the attention she will be getting here.

    But Cheong Wa Dae said her inclusion "seems to reflect Pyongyang's sincere will to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula," Cheong Wa Dae said. "It's all the more significant because Kim Yo-jong plays an important role in the Workers Party."

    The real sticking point is Choe Hwi, because he is blacklisted and banned by the UN Security Council from traveling to UN member states. It looks like the North Korean regime is determined to see how far it can get the South to bend sanctions.

    "We'll consult closely with the U.S. and the international community so that there wont' be any unnecessary controversy over possible violations of the sanctions," a ministry official said.

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