NATIONAL

[Breaking] N. Korea's high-level Olympic delegation heads to PyeongChang

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 9, 2018 - 13:54
  • Updated : Feb 9, 2018 - 15:48
A North Korean delegation, including the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, arrived in South Korea on Friday for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games and a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong arrives in South Korea on Friday. (Yonhap)

A North Korean special plane carrying its high-level delegation lands in Incheon Airport on Friday. (Yonhap)

The high-level government delegation to the quadrennial event arrived at Incheon International Airport on an airplane believed to be used exclusively by the North Korean leader.

The North Korean delegates were greeted by South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon and other ranking officials at the airport.

The delegation was headed by the North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

However, who was in charge apparently became clear when the 90-year-old titular head of state offered the top seat directly across from Seoul's point man on North Korea to the North Korean leader's sister, Yo-jong, who eventually declined.

The North Korean delegates headed to PyeongChang after a brief meeting with Cho and other officials at the airport, using a KTX express train. They were set to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games later in the day.

In PyeongChang, located 180 kilometers east of Seoul, Kim Yong-nam will also attend a reception dinner hosted by Moon that will also involve U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and some 200 other people.

Ri Son-gwon (far R), chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, Kim Yong-nam (2nd from R), North Korea`s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yo-jong (3rd from R), a sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Choe Hwi (4th from R), chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee meet South Korean officials at Seoul`s Incheon International Airport shortly after their arrival in South Korea on Friday. (Yonhap)

The North Korean delegates will return to Seoul for a Saturday lunch meeting with Moon, possibly at his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Kim Yong-nam is technically the highest ranking North Korean official to visit South Korea, while Kim Yo-jong is the only member of the reclusive state's ruling family to have ever visited the South.

The divided Koreas have held two rounds of inter-Korean summits, in 2000 and 2007, both in Pyongyang.

Many speculate Yo-jong may be carrying a message from the North Korean leader himself.

The official delegation will return home Sunday.

Pyongyang agreed to take part in the Olympics in bilateral talks with Seoul last month, which marked the first inter-Korean dialogue in more than two years.

The North has sent 22 athletes and hundreds of cheerleaders, performers and taekwondo demonstrators to PyeongChang. A 140-member art troupe from the North performed in the eastern city of Gangneung on Thursday and will do so again in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)