North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister landed in the South Friday, the first member of Pyongyang’s ruling dynasty to set foot in its rival since the Korean War.
Kim Yo Jong was part of a high-level diplomatic delegation led by the North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam — its highest-level official ever to go to the South — as the Winter Olympics trigger a diplomatic rapprochement between the rivals.
Their white Ilyushin-62 jet, marked in Korean script “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, the North’s official name, and its tailfin emblazoned with a Northern emblem, touched down at Incheon airport near Seoul.
The last member of the Kim family to set foot in Seoul was Yo Jong’s grandfather Kim Il Sung, the North’s founder, after his forces invaded in 1950 and the capital fell.
Three years later the conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula divided by the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, and the two sides technically in a state of war.
Now the North is subject to multiple rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong, both of them in dark coats with fur collars, were met by the South’s unification minister and other officials.
Their trip is the diplomatic high point of an Olympics-driven rapprochement between the two Koreas.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pushed the Games as a “peace Olympics” that will open a door for dialogue to alleviate tensions on the peninsula.
The delegation was due to take a high-speed train to Pyeongchang, where the Olympics opening ceremony would be held later Friday, and attended by US Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.