[PyeongChang 2018] North Korean troupe packs something extra for Seoul performance

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Feb 11, 2018 - 23:31
  • Updated : Feb 11, 2018 - 23:31
As North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra neared the end of its Seoul performance on Sunday, its leader Hyon Song-wol stepped on to the stage and grabbed the microphone.

North Korean Samjiyon Orchestra's leader Hyon Song-wol performs Sunday in Seoul. Yonhap

“I’ve crossed the inter-Korean borders twice to come here to the South. It pained me to realize that the distance between Pyongyang and Seoul is so close but it feels so far away,” Hyon said as she announced that she will sing a song herself. “I’ve caught a cold in Gangneung and am in terrible condition, but as I’m the leader (of Samjiyon), I ask for a particularly big round of applause.”

Hyon’s performance was part of the concert by the 140-member orchestra, which was led by Hyon, the head of the all-female Moranbong Band. As part of the South-North Korean agreement that made Pyongyang’s participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games possible, the orchestra arrived via the Mangyongbong-92 ferry on Tuesday to perform in Gangneung on Thursday and Seoul on Sunday.

Gangneung is also one of the host cities for the Winter Games.

The Seoul concert, held at Haeorum Theater located inside of the National Theater of Korea, was attended by prominent figures including President Moon Jae-in, first lady Kim Jung-sook, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Kim Yong-nam, president of North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

But the second half of the concert had a special performance that was not seen in the Gangneung. In addition to Hyon’s performance, Seohyeon of Girls’ Generation made an appearance on stage to collaborate with the members of the North Korean orchestra.

The rest of the repertoire was much like Gangneung, with a mixture of South Korean and North Korean pop music, along with classical scores. US songs like “Old Black Joe” and “Those Were the Days” were also played, which was unusual considering Pyongyang’s open hostility toward Washington.

By Yoon Min-sik (