Kim Yo Jong Fascinates, And Puzzles, In South Korea

Mike Pence in South Korea

South Korean officials have said Moon was invited to Pyongyang to speak with Kim Jong Un during the talks and lunch that Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Saturday. Between the lunch and talks, they spent nearly three hours together.

Kim Eui-kyeom, spokesman for President Moon, told a televised press briefing that Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the DPRK leader, delivered a letter of Kim Jong Un to Moon showing Kim's willingness to improve inter-Korean relations.

She and Kim Yong Nam, the North's 90-year-old nominal head of state, were seated behind Moon and his wife, while Pence and his wife were seated beside the Moons and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation.

"It is absolutely necessary for the North and the United States to engage in talks at an early date", he cited Moon as saying.

The two Koreas have worked together to send a joint team to major worldwide sports events only twice before - both in 1991, for the world table tennis championships in Japan and for soccer's World Youth Championship in Portugal.

Trump, who has at times exchanged taunts and threats with Kim, said in early January after the first intra-Korean talks in over two years that the United States was willing to speak to North Korea "under the right circumstances", although it was far from clear whether this would pay dividends. He added his hope that it becomes "a venue that leads to dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Her position is such that, according to a Seoul-based think tank run by North Korean defectors, Kim briefly took charge of the country while her brother was reportedly ill with gout or diabetes in late 2014.

South Korea's Kim Yuna thought she had seen and done it all during her stellar figure skating career, but lighting the Olympic cauldron as the final torchbearer of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics took her breath away.

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Kim Yo Jong and her delegation were greeted by government officials, including Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon, before boarding a bullet train to Pyeongchang.

"You must have had a hard time (on Friday) due to the cold weather", Moon made small talks with Yo, as he received her on Saturday.

After the meeting, Moon had lunch with four North Korean officials, including Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong.

The New York Times even praised Kim Yo Jong's efforts at "diplomacy", suggesting that with just a few smiles, she had "outflanked" Vice President Mike Pence. Those photos quickly went viral.

"If there is a message to be conveyed to South Korea or the USA, she is amply well positioned to convey it", he said.

Kim Yo Jong is the first member of her family to set foot in this country since the north and south were divided and her grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founded North Korea. Pyongyang has repeatedly said it needs a deterrent to stop the United States attacking it.

The American President Donald Trump, on the other hand, who seemingly got inspired by the idea of parades after observing Bastille Day celebrations in France, called for the U.S.to have a military parade of its own. The U.S. and the North should quickly resume dialogue, he said.

But Pence has not let up on the tough rhetoric he's been delivering since arriving in Asia.

In Pyeongchang, her presence is a major story line for reporters and the buzz on the street, with some in South Korea curious and accepting, while others are skeptical, if not downright cynical.

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