The younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Korea’s demilitarized zone on Wednesday to pay her respects to South Korea’s former first lady, who died earlier this week.
Kim Yo Jong traveled to the border village of Panmunjom to deliver a wreath of flowers and her brother’s condolences to senior South Korean officials.
Kim — who is also a senior official in North Korea — told the delegation that her brother considered the late first lady Lee Hee-ho “dear to his heart,” according to a South Korean presidential official.
Lee was the wife of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who ruled the country from 1998 to 2003.
In 2000 he became the first South Korean leader to meet North Korea’s then-Chairman Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un’s father.
Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy” towards North Korea — so-called for its warmth and friendliness — earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.
On Wednesday, South Korea’s Director of National Security, Chung Eui-yong, expressed his deep gratitude on behalf of his country’s President Moon Jae-in for “the respectful and special message along with the flowers from Chairman Kim.”
He also said he hoped that the former first lady’s passing can serve as a moment to “renew our promise to work toward a peaceful and prosperous future for Korean people.”
The meeting comes at delicate time in relations between the two countries, which are still technically at war since the 1953 Armistice Agreement only formalized a ceasefire.
A much-anticipated summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore last year had raised hopes of nuclear disarmament by the North Korea leader.
But these failed to materialize and in the past year the rhetoric between North Korea and the US — a key ally of South Korea — has become increasingly frosty, with the collapse of another Trump-Kim summit, slated to be held in Vietnam earlier this year.
After the meeting in Panmunjom, Director Chung told reporters that the officials only discussed matters relating to the late first lady.