Kim Jong Un's sister to dine with South Korean president at Olympics

by Associated Press /  / Updated 

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean President Moon Jae-in plans to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister and other senior officials who are visiting the country for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Moon's spokesman also said Thursday the North Korean delegates will attend the games' opening ceremony on Friday as well as a luncheon.

Kim Yo Jong would be the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit the South since the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty — meaning the countries officially remain at war. The North Korean delegation will also include the country's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

Vice President Mike Pence, who arrived in South Korea on Thursday ahead of the Olympics, is also set to meet separately with Moon. Pence is pushing South Korea to adopt a more hawkish stance toward Kim's regime and warning against North Korean "propaganda" efforts at the games.

Moon has looked to the Olympics as an opportunity to pursue a diplomatic opening with the North after a year of heightened tensions over its nuclear and missile programs.

Image: Welcoming ceremony
A North Korean band leaves a welcoming ceremony for the country's athletes in Gangneung, South Korea, on Thursday. Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

Pence is expected to advocate a clear-eyed approach toward his bellicose, nuclear-armed neighbor, warning against North Korean "propaganda" around the games.

Trump administration officials said they had long expected the North would seek to use the Olympics, taking place just 50 miles from the heavily-mined Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas, as an opportunity to put a softer face on the regime.

At the same time, the vice president has deliberately left the door open to a possible encounter with North Korean officials expected to be in attendance.

North Korean state media said Friday its officials have no intention of meeting with Pence.

A day before the opening ceremony of the games, tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers marched Thursday in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang along with trucks mounted with rocket launchers to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military. North Korean state TV showed Kim Jong Un attending the rally.

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