GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Unâ€™s sister headed home Sunday night after a whirlwind three days in South Korea, where she sat among world dignitaries at the Olympics and tossed a diplomatic offer to the South aimed at ending seven decades of hostility.
Kim Yo Jong and the rest of the North Korean delegation departed for Pyongyang on her brotherâ€™s private jet, a day after they delivered his hopes for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a lunch at Seoulâ€™s presidential palace. It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the Northâ€™s continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
They capped their final day in South Korea by joining Moon at a Seoul concert given by a visiting North Korean art troupe led by the head of the immensely popular Moranbong band, whose young female members are hand-picked by Kim Jong Un.
Accepting North Koreaâ€™s demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, South Korea treated the Mangyongbong-92 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in international sanctions.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon hosted the North Koreans for lunch Sunday before Moonâ€™s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, hosted them for dinner ahead of the concert.
Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure in her brotherâ€™s government and the first member of the Northâ€™s ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North Korean delegation also included the countryâ€™s 90-year-old head of state, Kim Yong Nam.
In dispatching the highest level of government officials the North has ever sent to the South, Kim Jong Un revealed a sense of urgency to break out of deep diplomatic isolation in the face of toughening sanctions over his nuclear program, analysts say.