No members of the North Korean ruling family have ever set foot in South Korea. So why now?
Simple: It’s the 2018 Winter Olympics, set in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s younger sister, is an important part of the secretive regime, much like Ivanka Trump is an important part of the United States “presidential team” — and Yo-jong functions as both advisor and propagandist.
Married to the son of North Korea’s Workers’ Party secretary, she apparently has quite a bit of influence on Kim Jong-un, and spends a lot of her time helping to protect her brother’s image via the propaganda department.
Her appearance at the games is being looked at as a possible thawing in political relations between the two countries, which might be a positive for the world. However, Kim Yo-jong is banned from entering the United States due to links to human rights abuses in North Korea.
Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA))
She arrives after the entire North Korean delegation made it to Pyeongchang, including 10 athletes, hundreds of cheerleaders, 21 journalists, 26 taekwondo instructors, and 4 National Olympic Committee officials. The two countries will enter the ceremony together this year, and they are fielding a women’s hockey team medal competition with athletes from both countries.
South Korea welcomed the news in an official statement from its government. “We believe that the North’s announcement of the delegation shows its willingness to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula along with a message of celebration for the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. 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.”