North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-Jung on Friday landed in the south, becoming the first member of Pyongyang’s ruling dynasty to set foot in the rival country since the Korean war.
Kim Yo-Jung is part of a high-level diplomatic delegation led by the North’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam – the highest level official ever to go to the South – ahead of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in had described the Winter Olympics as the ‘Peace Olympics, and to the surprise of the watching world the event in Pyeongchang has triggered a diplomatic rapprochement between the rivals.
Kim Yong-nam met Moon Jae-in near Pyeongchang and the two shook hands and posed for a photo, a scene that would have been unimaginable a month ago.
Moon and his wife received their guests one by one and the two men smiled in a relaxed manner ahead of the start of the day’s event.
Kim Yong Nam was meeting his third South Korean president after participating in North-South summits in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007.
On his left lapel Kim wore a badge depicting the North’s founder Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s father.
Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook both wore lapel badges of Soohorang, the dancing white tiger mascot of the Winter Games.
During the opening ceremony, Kim Yo-jong will be seated just metres from US vice-president Mike Pence in what could be a tense atmosphere following America’s dismissal of the north’s participation at the Games as ‘propaganda’.