N. Korea Announces Surprise Member of Olympic Delegation

Kim's sister will be visiting South for first time
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2018 6:14 AM CST
This 2015 photo provided by the North Korean government shows Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in North Korea.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
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(Newser) – In a move seen as a sign that North Korea is serious about improving relations with the South—and about thumbing its nose at the US—Kim Jong Un's powerful younger sister will be visiting South Korea as part of the North's high-level Olympic delegation. Kim Yo Jong, who is a full sibling of the North Korean leader and is believed to be around 30 years old, will be the first "direct member" of the Kim dynasty to visit the South, the BBC reports. South Korean officials welcomed the surprise announcement, saying it is "significant that the delegation also includes Kim Yo Jong, who is Chairman Kim Jong Un's sister and holds an important position in the Workers' Party of Korea."

Analysts say Kim Jong Un appears to be trying to present a warmer image of North Korea. By sending his sister when President Trump is sending daughter Ivanka, Kim "may be trying to present himself as an equal to Donald Trump," Hong Min at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification tells the AP. Mike Pence, meanwhile, is on a visit to Asia aimed at counteracting Pyongyang's "charm offensive," as CNN puts it. He told reporters Wednesday that the US is about to impose the "toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever." Kim Yo Jong was in January 2017 placed on the US Treasury Department's sanctions list over the country's human rights record, Reuters reported at the time; here's what else we know about her. (Read more Kim Yo Jong stories.)

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