North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister is headed to South Korea Friday for a three-day visit to the Winter Olympics, making it the first time any member of the Kim dynasty has visited the country, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.
Kim Yo Jong is the youngest daughter of the North’s late leader Kim Jong Il, who had multiple wives. She shares the same mother as Kim Jong Un and was promoted to the ruling party’s executive committee last year.
North Korea will march in the opening ceremony Friday as a united delegation with South Korea and field athletes in five sports. Officials in Seoul announced Wednesday the North’s decision to send Kim Yo Jong as part of its own delegation led by Kim Yong Nam, president of North Korea’s parliament. Kim Yo Jong is believed to be 30 years old.
South Korea sees her attendance as a positive sign of North Korea’s willingness to ease tensions between the rival Koreas. But, Kim Yo Jong’s visit is likely to rankle the United States as the Treasury Department included her on its list of blacklisted North Korean officials last year.
Accounts published in South Korean media suggest Kim Yo Jong is behind leader Kim Jong Un’s attempts to improve his public image by visiting schools and factories and may have encouraged his unlikely friendship with U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman.