Kim Jong-un’s younger sister is set to become the first member of North Korea’s ruling bloodline to step on South Korean soil.
Kim Yo-jong, who was promoted by her brother last year to the ruling party’s political wing, will attend the opening of this month’s Winter Olympics in the South Korean alpine town of Pyeongchang, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.
The visit by a potential future leader of North Korea could be seen as a symbolic gesture by Kim Jong-un to show he is keen to maintain the current detente. But it’s possible she is also being used as a propaganda tool to take the spotlight away from the celebrations in South Korea, and drive a deeper wedge between the governments in Seoul and Washington.
The North Korean leader has already tapped Kim Yong-nam, the isolated regime’s ceremonial head of state, to lead the country’s delegation at the Olympics and attend the opening ceremony on Friday evening.
Believed to be in her late 20s, Kim Yo-jong shares the same mother as Kim Jong-un. Their half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was murdered in February at a Malaysian airport with the chemical weapon VX. North Korea denies it played a role in the attack.
Kim Yo-jong’s promotion brought her closer to the centre of power in the isolated state. She is appeared prominently in public and is seen as the most influential woman along with Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, in a country where family ties mean more than any title or rank.
Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong were born to Ko Yong-hui, the fourth partner of Kim Jong-il. They grew up together in the capital of Pyongyang and attended the same Swiss boarding school, Yonhap News Agency has reported.