This Handshake Between South Korea's President And Kim Jong Un's Sister Is Making Headlines

Just a year ago, this moment would have been "unthinkable."

During the opening ceremony of the Olympics, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un and a well-known North Korean delegate.

While a handshake between two neighboring nations may not seem significant, it is a sign of the thawing tensions between two countries that have been at odds for decades. The Olympics, which are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, have served as a stepping stone for the North and South Korea to come together once again.


"I know it may seem like a small thing, but this is the 1st time EVER that a member of the 'Kim dynasty' has visited South Korea," JJ Green, an award-winning national security correspondent, said on Twitter. "Diplomats are very hopeful. This handshake represents a significant thaw in very icy relations & a huge gesture, that won't soon be forgotten. "

President of South Korea Moon Jae-in (bottom right) shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong (center left), the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics on February 9. Photo Credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters

It was the first time a member of Kim dynasty had gone to South Korea since 1953, when the Korean War that divided the two nations ended. The handshake quickly went viral on Twitter, where a number of people noticed the unlikely moment. 

These Winter Olympics are also the first time in 12 years that North and South Korea came out under a united flag during the opening ceremonies. There are 500 North Koreans in attendance and 22 North Korean athletes competing, and one team — the ice hockey team — is playing as a united, singular Korean team. Two ice hockey players from the unified Korean team carried the Olympic torch together during the ceremony. 

The interaction was seen as a sign North and South Korea want the world to understand diplomacy might have a chance. But it's not a guarantee of what's to come. CNN has reported that Kim plans to invite Moon to North Korea, which would mark the first visit for a South Korean president since 2007. South Korea's presidential spokesman said that Moon plans to meet Kim Yo Jong and several other North Korean officials on Saturday while the Olympics are in progress. 

While the opening ceremony and the handshake were broadcasted across the world, it was not shown in North Korea. The state broadcaster there instead showed patriotic songs throughout the ceremony. The night before the parade, Kim Jong Un gave a speech rallying against imperialism during a military parade. 

But after the games are over, many are concerned about what will happen

"Right now there's nothing in the works beyond the Olympics. You know when you get to April 1, and the Olympics and Paralympics are over, it's back to the joint military exercises," John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University in South Korea, told BuzzFeed. "That sort of sends us back to 2017."


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