Kim who? Meet the sister of North Korea's leader, set to take centre stage at the Winter Olympics

Kim who? Meet the sister of North Korea's leader, set to take centre stage at the Winter Olympics

Another member of North Korea's ruling family has stepped into the global spotlight — and it's not because they've been murdered.

Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of leader Kim Jong-un, will attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games tomorrow.

Like most of North Korea's key people, little is known about her.

Even her exact age is uncertain, although she is believed to be 30.

Here's what we do know, and why her visit to South Korea is important.

Who is the youngest sibling of North Korea's leader?

Kim Yo-jong is believed to be one of Kim Jong-un's closest confidants.

Believed to have been born in September 1987, she is the youngest daughter of former leader Kim Jong-il to his second mistress Ko Yong-hui.

She spent her early years at Ko Yong-hui's residence in central Pyongyang and in 1996 joined her older brother and current leader, Kim Jong-un, in Switzerland to live and study.

It is understood she returned to North Korea in 2000 having completed primary school and went on to become a computer scientist.

She reportedly married top official Choe Song in 2014.

In January 2017, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo-jong along with other North Korean officials over "severe human rights abuses".

In October she was promoted by her brother to be an alternate member of the decision-making political bureau of the ruling party's central committee.

Why is her visit to the Winter Olympics significant?

Kim Yo-jong will be the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Analysts say her inclusion in the Olympic delegation shows North Korea's ambition to use the Olympics to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

She will be accompanied by North Korea's nominal head of state, along with two other senior officials.

The delegation will visit the South for three days starting on Friday.

A total of 22 North Korean athletes are to participate in the Games and they plan to march with South Korean athletes under a "unification flag" during the opening ceremony.

Will she meet with US Vice President Mike Pence?

US Vice President Mike Pence is already pouring cold water on the warming ties between North and South Korea.

Mr Pence has embarked on a set of symbolic visits designed to draw attention to the North's terrible human rights record and nuclear aggression.

He is due to arrive in Seoul on Thursday for meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in but there is no word of an official meeting with the North Korean delegation.

"We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region," Mr Pence said on Wednesday after meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Could she defect?

Fleeing North Korea is a dangerous and sometimes deadly task.

It is rare for a high-level official to defect.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the Korean War, but most travel through China.

Those who successfully make it to the South often struggle to fit in, with studies estimating 25 per cent of all defectors have seriously considered returning home.

And Kim Jong-un's own family are not immune to the unpredictable nature of the leader.

In February 2017 his half-brother Kim Jong-nam was assassinated at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, allegedly by female attackers wielding a chemical weapon.

The eldest son of Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-nam was hidden from public view for years because his father and actress mother were not legally married.

The circumstances of his death still remain unclear, but experts have blamed North Korean agents as he was known for speaking out publicly against the Kim regime.

ABC/wires