Two Koreas' Art Troupes to Perform Together in Pyongyang

Saul Bowman
April 5, 2018

Still, the apology was all the more striking not only because the totalitarian state does not have a free press but also because it came from Kim Yong-chol, an army general considered hard-line even by North Korean standards.

"Our dear leader comrade said his heart swelled and he was moved by the sight of his people deepen their understanding of South Korean popular culture and cheer with sincerity", the North's KCNA state media said. Experts say it's unlikely, and the flurry of meetings, events and diplomatic activity is merely a facade for more strategic goals, including the dividing of allies and the easing of biting sanctions amid the US -led "maximum pressure" campaign of President Donald Trump.

North Korean media outlets have reported on leader Kim Jong-un's surprise attendance at a South Korean concert in Pyongyang on Sunday.

Band member Seulgi said she cried when North and South Koreans sang together the song, Our Wish is Unification. Meanwhile, a South Korean taekwondo demonstration team also held a performance in Pyongyang on Sunday.

Kim reportedly particularly liked the K-Pop band Red Velvet, one of the South's biggest girl groups who recently stirred controversy after netizens claimed it had been chosen to perform in the North because they endorse communism, according to The Korea Times.

K-Pop girl group Red Velvet did something that it has never done in the past. "This meeting [between President Trump and Kim Jong Un] won't take place without concrete actions that match the promises that have been made by North Korea", Sanders cautioned, citing the North's promises around denuclearization.

It is a remarkable shift following a year of mounting tensions, accentuated by North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.

It is the first time that the North's top leader has directly attended a South Korean art troupe's performance, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. Kim is to meet Moon at a border village on April 27 and President Donald Trump in May in separate summit talks. Millions bob their heads to the catchy tunes and feel mesmerized by the synchronized dance steps and in the sea of people at future K-pop concerts you may just find one very (in) famous head bobbing to the tune; that of one Kim Jong Un.

Besides veteran singer Cho Yong-pil, former member of Girls Generation Seohyun and ballad singer Baek Ji-young, K-Pop girl group Red Velvet was among those sent to the country to perform. On that occasions, South Korean taxpayers footed the bill for their food, lodging, and any travel needs. The rare gesture from a senior official reflected the North's efforts to work toward a political d├ętente on the Korean Peninsula that Kim Jong-un helped start in February by sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Yoon, who also performed in Pyongyang in 2002, recalled his first time performing in the North Korean capital and why he chose to do it again. He even reportedly posed with the band in a gesture of huge significance, given that North Korea generally resists cultural infiltration from anywhere outside its borders, especially where the South is concerned.

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