SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister is set to arrive in South Korea on Friday in a private jet as part of the North’s delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics games, the South’s Unification Ministry said on Thursday.
Pyongyang’s high-level delegation, led by the President of the Presidium of the North Korean Parliament, Kim Yong-nam, is expected to arrive at the Incheon International Airport in the afternoon, the Kim Jong-un regime had informed the South Korean ministry.
The visit of Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, marks the first visit of a Kim dynasty member to the South and comes at a time when tension between the two countries had eased over preparations surrounding the Winter Olympics.
The visit, along with the participation of its famous cheerleaders’ squad and an orchestra that is set to play two concerts during the games, is being looked upon by many as an effort by North Korea to portray a positive image to the world.
Seoul has welcomed the visit saying it shows the North’s willingness to de-escalate tensions, and has indicated that it would try to organize a meeting between the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean representatives.
The North Korean delegation, including Kim’s sister, will attend the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday in PyeongChang, which will also be attended by an American delegation, led by US Vice President Mike Pence.
On Thursday, Pence had reiterated he was open to meeting the North Korean delegation on the sidelines of the Games, while the North Korean media had reported it was not part of the agenda of their delegation.
The delegation is scheduled to fly back to North Korea on Sunday night from Incheon, after attending a concert by the North Korean Samjiyon Orchestra in Seoul.
The visit could have violated United Nations sanctions if they had flown with the only airline in the country, Air Koryo, which has been blacklisted by South Korea and the US.
However, a private plane, like the one used exclusively by Kim Jong-un for his domestic travels, would not violate the sanctions, said a Unification Ministry spokesperson according to a report by the Yonhap news agency.