Kim Jong Un's sister departs South Korea

North Korea says latest missile test is capable of reaching U.S. mainland

North Korea says latest missile test is capable of reaching U.S. mainland

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, talk as they for the start of the preliminary round of the women's hockey game between Switzerland and the combined Koreas at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.

Kim Yo Jong and other senior North Korean officials departed for Pyongyang on Sunday night on the private jet of Kim's brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The North's presence has dominated the headlines in the early days of the Olympics, with all eyes turning to Swiss-educated Kim Yo Jong, believed to be 30, who is among her brother's closest confidantes.

It was the USA that appeared to be the one left in the cold, especially after the sister of the North Korean dictator extended an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit the North.

"[The North Korea cheerleaders] were fresh but a bit weird to me", South Korean university student Kang Gwang Mo told Reuters.

He didn't say what those conditions were, but he urged North Korea to open a dialogue with the United States, suggesting no diplomatic progress could be made without US participation. Asia experts said Pence's sour conduct toward the North Koreans could be seen as disrespectful to the South Korean hosts, who were demonstrating a moment of harmony with the North.

But the previous agreements broke down as North Korea pressed ahead with its nuclear program. Wearing a black coat and with her hair pulled back, she presents a marked contrast to the ceremonial head of North Korea's government - the often expressionless Kim Yong Nam, 90.

North Korean cheerleaders let rip in support for Choe Un Song but he was eliminated in the heats for the 1,500m short-track speed skating, failing to reach the semi-finals.

For that reason, Schoff said, Washington should work closely with Seoul to shape any North-South summit agenda, "defending the role of exercises for stability and insisting that denuclearization is front and center of any peace talks". It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for USA troops stationed in South Korea.

Neither approach inspired a goal from the home team, which went down 0-8, but it was clear who connected with the mainly young South Korean fans, who have grown up physically separated from the poor, one-party state to the North.

The most important part of the visit, however, came during one of the quieter moments.

"We hope that President (Moon) could leave a legacy that would last over generations by leading the way in opening a new era of unification", she said, according to Moon's office.

The response was seen as meaning that there should first be progress on efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, such as talks between the United Sates and the North, before what would be a third inter-Korean summit takes place.

Moon responded in a noncommittal way, saying that he wanted to "create the environment for that to be able to happen".

Moon has long sought engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, and for months has promoted Pyeongchang as a "peace Olympics".

The Trump administration is wary of engagement with the North, which has been subjected to increasingly tough global sanctions, unless it shows clear signs of giving up its nuclear weapons program.

By also sending a youthful, photogenic individual who would surely draw worldwide attention at the Olympics, Kim might have also been trying to construct a fresher image of the country, particularly in face of USA efforts to use the Olympics as an occasion to highlight the North's brutal human rights record.

She's not what we expected: not stiff, but smiling.

"Kim Jong Un has no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons", said Cheon Seong-whun, a former presidential secretary for security strategy and now a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

"We have to be unified (with North Korea)". The previous meetings came after rounds of worldwide talks aimed at eliminating the North's nuclear program, which eventually failed. Reviving inter-Korean dialogue is critical for the policies of Moon, who insists that Seoul should be in control in worldwide efforts to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

South Korea may also need to persuade traditional allies the United States and Japan, which have raised concerns that the North is attempting to use its outreach as a release valve for worldwide pressure.

"The fate of our nation must be determined by our own selves — we must not allow the repeat of unfortunate past history where our fate was determined with no regard to our opinions", Moon said in a speech to South Korean lawmakers in November.

Analysts have cautioned that similar summits have occurred before but haven't achieved results.

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