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Kim leaves impression

Reuters
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

SEOUL - A prim, young woman with a high forehead and hair half swept back quietly gazes at the throngs of people pushing for a glimpse of her, a faint smile on her lips and eyelids low as four bodyguards jostle around her.

In her first appearance on the global stage, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had her every move closely scrutinised.

Crowds applauded as she stood for the South Korean anthem during the opening ceremony for the start of the Winter Olympic Games, while her big smiles and relaxed manner left a largely positive impression on the South Korean public.

But her sometimes aloof expression and high-tilted chin also spoke of someone who sees herself "of royalty" and "above anyone else", leadership experts and some critics said.

Ms Kim's visit to South Korea, the first by a member of the North's ruling bloodline since their 1950-53 war, could hardly have come at a more acute time.

US vice president Mike Pence was also in town, leading international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme and reminding the world of the Kim family's brutal regime.

When shaking hands or eating meals with officials such as South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Ms Kim was all smiles, even agreeing to give a toast suddenly requested of her by the presidential Blue House's chief of staff.

"I can't speak very well in public," she told guests attending a dinner at the five-star Banyan Tree Club and Spa in Seoul.

"I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be strange and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same.

"I hope the day we become one comes soon and hope to see all your friendly faces in Pyongyang."








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