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(LEAD) N. Korea's high-level Olympic delegation arrives in S. Korea

2018/02/09 14:35

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(ATTN: UPDATES with more information in paras 2-5; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other senior officials arrived in South Korea on Friday for the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games and a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The high-level government delegation to the quadrennial event, headed by the communist state's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam, arrived at Incheon International Airport on an aircraft believed to be the North Korean leader's private jet.

The 22-member delegation includes the North Korean leader's sister, Yo-jong, who is also a key propaganda official of the ruling Workers' Party.

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

They headed to PyeongChang after a brief meeting with Cho and other South Korean 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.

Kim Yong-nam (R), chief of North Korea's official delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, enters the venue for a brief meeting with South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (L) after arriving at Seoul's Incheon International Airport on Feb. 9, 2018. The North Korean delegation included North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Yo-jong (2nd from R). (Yonhap) Kim Yong-nam (R), chief of North Korea's official delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, enters the venue for a brief meeting with South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (L) after arriving at Seoul's Incheon International Airport on Feb. 9, 2018. The North Korean delegation included North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, Yo-jong (2nd from R). (Yonhap)

Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, is also scheduled to attend a reception dinner hosted by Moon that will also involve U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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