The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will travel to South Korea this week for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The South's Unification Ministry said Wednesday that Kim Yo Jong, a senior member of the North's ruling Workers' Party, will be part of the high-level delegation that will arrive Friday. The delegation will be led by Kim Yong Nam, the regime's ceremonial head of state.
Kim Yo Jong, who is believed to be in her late 20s, was promoted last October by her brother as an alternate member of the politburo, the party's decision-making body.
News of Kim Yo Jong's plans to travel to the South comes as more North Korean performers arrive in the South to take part in the PyeongChang Olympics. A 229-member all-female cheering squad, dressed in matching red coats and dark fur hats, crossed the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas early Wednesday, before arriving at a resort hotel in a rural town outside of the host city. They were part of a 280-member delegation that included North Korea sports minister Kim Il Guk and a demonstration taekwondo team that will perform before Friday's opening ceremony.
North Korea has sent large cheering squads to international sports events hosted by the South in 2002, 2003 and 2005. A member of the 2005 squad would become Kim Jong Un's wife.
A large musical performance troupe that arrived by boat Tuesday at the eastern port of Mukho Tuesday was greeted by hundreds of angry South Korean right-wing demonstrators who burned pictures of Kim Jong Un and the North Korean flag.
A statement issued by the North's official KCNA news agency Wednesday denounced the protesters as "a spasm of psychopaths."
Meanwhile, a more pressing matter for officials of the PyongChang Olympics is a possible outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus after more than 30 security guards fell ill in recent days. Officials have pulled 1,200 private security squads from their duties as they test for norovirus, replacing them with 900 military personnel.
Christophe Dubi, the executive director of Olympic Games for the International Olympic Committee, told reporters that hand sanitizers have been installed at all Olympic venues, and that leaflets were being distributed with instructions on the virus and what to do if someone is infected.