Ministry denies visit by Kim’s sister
The Unification Ministry denied Thursday a news report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister will visit Seoul next year to attend an inter-Korean event.
The Korea Economic Daily reported on Thursday morning that North Korea has offered to send Kim Yo-jong to an inter-Korean food festival. In the report, the head of the South Korean organizer was quoted as saying that the event was planned to take place in Seoul in March.
According to the report, the event is jointly organized by the North’s Rakwon General Trading Corporation and the South’s General Association of Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Businessmen. Names of top North Korean Workers’ Party officials, including Kim’s younger sister, were provided in Pyongyang’s letter of intent for the event, it said.
“We recently submitted the proposal to the Ministry of Unification,” Dongbang Young-man, the head of the South Korean association, told the newspaper. “A discussion took place this month and we will arrange the specifics as soon as the ministry grants us a permission to contact the North further.”
If her visit materializes, Kim Yo-jong will be the first member of the Kim family to come to the South since the Peninsula was officially divided after the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, authorized the invasion of the South in 1950. Kim Yo-jong is his granddaughter.
The Ministry of Unification said on Thursday that it has rejected the organizer’s plan for the food festival because the application lacked the required documents.
“In October, the organizer proposed that it wanted to hold the event in November,” a ministry official said. “But the application was not satisfactory so we asked them to improve it. Two weeks ago, they submitted the proposal again and said they want to hold the event in March.”
The official said the letter of intent and an invitation from North Korea were submitted by the South Korean organizer and that the letter of intent included Kim Yo-jong’s name as a participant.
“But we need to confirm whether that name actually means she is the younger sister of Kim Jong-un,” he said.
The official also expressed certain skepticism toward the veracity of the submitted documents.
“In the letter of intent, Kim Yo-jong’s title was identified as the director of the External Project Department of the Workers’ Party,” he said. “But the Workers’ Party does not have such a department.”
He added that it was only last week that Pyongyang introduced her as a deputy director of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, and it seemed odd that she would suddenly be designated as a director in the document.
The ministry, however, said it is willing to review and approve her visit, if the trip is actually pushed forward through the proper channels.
“It is the government’s current stance that non-political, social and cultural exchanges will be allowed,” the official said. “We will handle it accordingly.”
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