At Olympic Games, Kim Jong Un’s sister takes VIP seat


Associated Press
Friday, February 09, 2018

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister took her place among dignitaries from around the world, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Friday in an unprecedented visit to South Korea.

The trip by Kim Yo Jong is the latest move in an extraordinary show of Olympic diplomacy with Seoul that could prove to be a major challenge to the Trump administration’s hard-line Korea policies.

As the opening ceremony began, she and South Korean President Moon Jae-in exchanged a historic handshake and spoke briefly. They smiled broadly, though it was not immediately known what they said.

She and Kim Yong Nam, the North’s 90-year-old nominal head of state, were seated behind Moon and his wife, while Pence and his wife were seated beside the Moons and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

At the age of 30, Kim Yo Jong is quite possibly the most powerful woman in North Korea. Just a few years younger than her brother, she is believed to be his closest confidant and is a senior cadre in North Korea’s ruling party.

Her arrival on Kim Jong Un’s private jet with a coterie of 22 officials was broadcast live on South Korean television.

Looking confident and relaxed, she had a brief meeting at the airport with South Korean officials, including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, before being whisked away in a black limousine and catching the high-speed train to the mountains of Pyeongchang. As a sign of her status, the elder Kim Yong Nam offered her the seat of honor at the airport meeting, but she politely declined.

The trip comes amid a flurry of activity following Kim Jong Un’s surprise proposal on New Year’s Day to send a delegation of athletes, officials, entertainers and cheering groups to the Olympics.

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