North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s younger sister will swap Pyongyang for Pyeongchang this week, as she makes her way to South Korea for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Kim Yo-jong, currently the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, is travelling across the Korean border as part of North Korea’s Olympic delegation. In doing so, she will become the first member of the Kim dynasty to visit South Korea.
Reports suggest that Kim Yo-jong will be in attendance at the opening ceremony on Friday morning. She will be accompanying Kim Yong-nam, the President of the Supreme People’s Assembly, on the trip.
Her attendance was confirmed by South Korea news agency Yonhap on Wednesday morning. According to the report, she will spend three days in South Korea before returning home.
Kim Yo-jong has seen her role in Kim Jong-un’s government increase in recent years, having risen through the Propaganda and Agitation Department. In 2017, the government elected her to the Politburo, North Korea’s highest decision-making body.
Why it matters:
This offers the two nations to come together for the first time since their division in 1953. The two Koreas will march under a unified flag at the opening ceremony.
The media has raised questions about North Korea’s motives for agreeing to attend the Olympic Games. However, regardless, the decision to send such high-ranking officials will offer the opportunity for discussions between North Korea and its disgruntled opposition.
South Korea hopes that North Korea’s presence at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics could help to relieve years of tensions between the two countries.
According to the BBC, those in South Korea feel that this is the best indication yet that Kim Jong-un is willing to work with the south to improve relations.
What was said:
Following confirmation of Kim Yo-jong’s attendance, BBC report Laura Bicker said:
“It is being seen here [in South Korea] as a sign that Kim Jong-un is serious about improving ties with South Korea.”
Optimistic about North Korea’s Olympics turnaround, US vice president Mike Pence, who is leading the US’ delegation, said:
“North Korea can have a better future than the militaristic path, the path of provocation and confrontation that it’s on. Better for its own people, better for the region, and better for peace.”
Korea has remained divided since the Korean War ended in 1953. While the war ended in a stalemate, the two nations have yet to sign a peace treaty.
The North’s recent missile tests haven’t helped the situation. The nation has been attempting to develop nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States. United Nations have placed various restrictions on imports and exports as a result.
Kim Yo-jong presence is the result of resumed talks between the north and south which were opened last month in the border town of Panmunjom.
North Korea refused to attend the last Olympics held in South Korea back in 1988.