North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea on Friday. She will accompany Kim Yong-nam – the country’s nominal head of state – and other members of the delegation who will be across the border for the Games, the South Korean Unification Ministry said, according to Reuters.

While Kim Yo-jong’s trip to the South – the first by a member of Kim Jong-un’s family – is significant amid tensions in the Korean Peninsula, it may sour relations between Seoul and Washington DC as the United States had blacklisted her in 2017 over human rights abuses and censorship.

Seoul maintains that her visit is “meaningful” as Kim Yo-jong holds a significant position as a senior official in the North’s Workers’ Party. “It shows the North’s resolve to defuse tension in the Korean peninsula,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesperson for South Korea’s presidential Blue House.

Athletes from both Koreas will march under one flag during the opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. The development is being viewed as a step towards improving the strained relations between the countries, after months of heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.