N. Korean leader's sister arrives in S. Korea for landmark trip

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-02-09 14:39 Updated : 2018-02-13 15:52
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL, Feb. 09 (Aju News) -- A special North Korean plane carrying the sister of leader Kim Jong-un landed at a South Korean airport Friday in a much-heralded trip that could open a new era of inter-Korean rapprochement following frozen relations for nearly ten years.

The touchdown of Kim Jong-un's private Ilyushin Il-62 plane at Incheon International Airport west of Seoul was broadcast live by South Korean TV stations. The plane carried North Korea's country name and a national flag.

Wearing a black winter coat, Kim Yo-jong with a bright smile walked into an airport VIP room for an exchange of greetings with South Korean officials, including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

Outside the airport, Kim Yo-jong and Kim Yong-nam, the North's ceremonial head of state, were escorted into a black sedan protected by South Korean bodyguards for a trip to the Olympic venue in Pyeongchang aboard a high-speed train.

It marked the first air trip to Seoul by a North Korean delegation since October 2014, when three top officials attended the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in Incheon.

Pyongyang has stepped up a flurry of sports diplomacy to grab the international spotlight since its leader made a surprise decision to send an Olympic team, cheerleaders and an art troupe. His beloved younger sister was allowed to mark her debut on the international diplomatic stage.

Kim Yong-nam is to attend a reception hosted by President Moon Jae-in ahead of the Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. Kim Yo-jong has been invited to a special meeting on Saturday with Moon at an unspecified place.

The presence of high-level delegations from Washington and Pyongyang in the Olympic venue sparked speculation about possible contact because South Korea President Moon Jae-in is set to invite foreign leaders to a reception on Friday.

However, North Korea ruled out any dialogue with the United Staes when its high-level delegation attends the Winter Olympics, throwing cold water on efforts by South Korea to set the stage for an unforced get-together.

Over Pyongyang's unexpected peace posture, Washington has been cynical or struck a somewhat hardline tone. The U.S. vice president has said the United States "will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery" of the Olympic Games.