Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Korean art troupe arrives in Pyongyang for performances

Red Velvet Singer Joy to Skip Historic K-Pop Concert in North Korea Red Velvet singer Joy to skip Pyongyang concerts over scheduling conflicts
| 02 April, 2018, 01:09

The majority of the South Korean art troupe and taekwondo athletes scheduled to give performances in Pyongyang ahead of a historic inter-Korean summit arrived in North Korea on Saturday.

The chart-topping starlets will perform on Sunday (April 1) with 10 other South Korean music groups at the first of two concerts this week in Pyongyang.

South Korean media says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has attended a rare concert by South Korean performers visiting Pyongyang amid thawing ties between the regional rivals. The team is made up mostly of Korean pop artists set to perform twice in Pyongyang the following week in a cross-border cultural exchange ahead of an inter-Korean summit on April 27.

Kim shook hands and took photos with the Seoul stars backstage, saying inter-Korean cultural events should be held more often and suggesting another event in the South Korean capital this autumn, pool reports said.

An unidentified South Korean official said Kim was initially going to attend the Tuesday performance, but had to change his plan due to a scheduling conflict. "I hope the inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation that resumed during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will further increase with the South Korean art troupe's performances in Pyongyang an occasion".

On April 1, along with a strong lineup of South Korean artists, Red Velvet showed what K-pop has to offer by performing at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater and Pyongyang Arena.


Such deployments during past drills has frequently drawn an angry response from Pyongyang. The South Korean government confirmed that the Gangnam Style singer had been considered for the roster, but didn't make the final cut. As one of the most established K-pop acts today, the band is expected to offer a taste of some of the most cutting-edge K-pop to people in the isolated communist country.

The most closely-watched group due to perform Sunday is Red Velvet, part of the South's hugely popular K-pop phenomenon that has taken audiences in Asia and beyond by storm in recent decades.

The theme of the joint concert will be "Spring is Coming", South Korea's Culture Ministry spokesman Hwang Seong Un said at a briefing in Seoul on March 27.

The 120-member group, including top girlband Red Velvet, flew from Seoul's Gimpo airport aboard a chartered civilian flight to Pyongyang via the rarely used direct air route between the two Koreas, as a rapprochement on the peninsula gathers pace.

Kim's late father and longtime ruler, Kim Jong Il, was known to be a fan of the 68-year-old singer.

During the taekwondo event, a previously raptured audience member turned stone-faced when the athletes showcased a performance combining K-pop dance and Taekwondo routines to a hit song of ultra-popular boyband BTS.

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