Kim Jong Un's Sister Ends Her Olympics Visit After Delivering Hopes For a Summit

From TIME - February 11, 2018

(GANGNEUNG, South Korea)North Korean leader Kim Jong Uns sister headed home Sunday night after a whirlwind three days in South Korea, where she sat among world dignitaries at the Olympics and tossed a diplomatic offer to the South aimed at ending seven decades of hostility.

Kim Yo Jong and the rest of the North Korean delegation departed for Pyongyang on her brothers private jet, a day after they delivered his hopes for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a lunch at Seouls presidential palace. It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the Norths continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

They capped their final day in South Korea by joining Moon at a Seoul concert given by a visiting North Korean art troupe led by the head of the immensely popular Moranbong band, whose young female members are hand-picked by Kim Jong Un.

Accepting North Koreas demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, South Korea treated the Mangyongbong-92 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in international sanctions.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon hosted the North Koreans for lunch Sunday before Moons chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, hosted them for dinner ahead of the concert.

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure in her brothers government and the first member of the Norths ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North Korean delegation also included the countrys 90-year-old head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

In dispatching the highest level of government officials the North has ever sent to the South, Kim Jong Un revealed a sense of urgency to break out of deep diplomatic isolation in the face of toughening sanctions over his nuclear program, analysts say.

Honestly, I didnt know I would come here so suddenly. I thought things would be strange and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar, Kim said while proposing a toast at Sundays dinner, according to Moons office. Heres to hoping that we could see the pleasant people (of the South) again in Pyeongchang and bring closer the future where we are one again.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday rejected any suggestion that even a temporary warming of relations between the North and South could drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

Its too early to say, Mattis said, if using the Olympics in a way to reduce tensionif thats going to have any traction once the Olympics are over. We cant say right now.

South Korea accommodated both the North Korean government officials and members of the art troupe at the Walkerhill hotel in Seoul. The riverside facility is named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, whos considered a war hero in the South for his battles against the North during the Korean War. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

The North Koreans went through a busy schedule in South Korea as the world watched their every move. They were whisked back and forth between Seoul and the Olympic towns of Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

They shared the VIP box with world leaders at the opening ceremony and joined Moon in cheering for the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team as it debuted in the womens ice hockey tournament. Saturdays game ended in a crushing 8-0 loss to Switzerland.

The most important part of the visit, however, came during one of the quieter moments.


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