Kim Jong Un's sister in South Korea visit

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in South Korea for the Winter Olympics.
The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in South Korea for the Winter Olympics.

In a stunning turn of events, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister has arrived in South Korea to be her brother's special envoy to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Kim Yo Jong is probably Kim's closest confidant and is a senior cadre in North Korea's ruling party.

She is the first member of the Kim dynasty to visit South Korea, though her grandfather, Kim Il Sung, travelled to areas occupied by his troops south of what is now the Demilitarized Zone during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The trip has the potential to become something of a coming out party - certainly for Kim Yo Jong, but also for her deeply isolated country.

Kim Jong Un hasn't set foot outside North Korea or met a single head of state since he assumed power upon the death of their father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

His single-minded pursuit of a nuclear arsenal to counter what he sees as the threat of invasion by the US has ratcheted up tensions not only with his rivals but also with primary trading partner China and with Russia, once a key benefactor.

Looking confident and relaxed, Kim Yo Jong had a brief meeting with South Korean officials, including Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, before being whisked away in a black limousine and catching the high-speed train to Pyeongchang.

Kim Yo Jong, who is believed to be about 30, has been rapidly rising within the North's power structure and is believed to be in charge of shaping her brother's public persona.

This is her first high-profile international appearance though she is technically just a member of a delegation headed by the North's aging senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam.

After arriving on Kim Jong Un's personal jet she travelled to Pyeongchang to attend the games' opening ceremony, where the North and South Korean athletes will march together behind a blue-and-white "unification" flag.

Along with the rest of the North's senior delegation, Kim is to have lunch with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House.

The meeting is so unprecedented and its announcement on Thursday was so sudden that rumours are already swirling it could open the door to much more - perhaps even an offer for Moon to travel to Pyongyang.

US Vice President Mike Pence is also attending the opening ceremony and has publicly and repeatedly warned South Korea not to let down its guard to a North Korean charm offensive.

Australian Associated Press