The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] NK leader says K-pop performance created mood of peace on peninsula

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : April 2, 2018 - 15:23

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed hope that South Korean musicians’ performance in Pyongyang could serve as a “meaningful occasion” to show the unity of the divided Koreas, the North’s state-run news agency said Monday.

Under the theme “Spring Comes,” K-pop heavyweights including Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, girl group Red Velvet and Seohyun of Girls’ Generation performed a concert at the 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theater in Pyongyang for two hours, starting at 6:30 p.m. (South Korean time) on Sunday. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) poses for a photo with South Korean musicians after their concert in Pyongyang on Sunday. (KCNA-Yonhap) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) poses for a photo with South Korean musicians after their concert in Pyongyang on Sunday. (KCNA-Yonhap)

Seoul agreed earlier this month to send the artists to Pyongyang, in a move that was seen as a reciprocation of a North Korean art troupe’s performances in the South during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, coupled with efforts to further ease border tensions ahead of a landmark inter-Korean summit in April.

Kim, who attended the performance with his wife Ri Sol-ju, said the South Korean art troupe’s Pyongyang performance brought a “spring of peace” for people on the Korean Peninsula.

“As long as there are efforts to guard and develop this feel-good atmosphere there will always be a spring full of sunshine of bud and blossoming flowers and an abundant autumn of ripening grains,” Kim said, according to the North’s Korea Central News Agency.

“I also wish that the South Korean art group’s visit to Pyongyang could serve as a meaningful occasion in showing a ‘unified Korean people,’” he added.

The performance also sparked possibilities of more cultural exchanges between the divided Koreas, as Kim reportedly hinted at a follow-up concert in the fall, while acknowledging the need for more cross-border events.

“There needs to be more of (these) cultural and art performances. Since the South performed (under the theme) ‘Spring Comes,’ let’s do a performance called ‘Autumn has Come’ in Seoul this coming fall,” Kim said, according to a pool report.

Kim said he was “deeply” moved to see the North Korean audience respond enthusiastically to Sunday’s performance, the KCNA added.

Kim was the first North Korean ruler to watch a concert by South Korean musicians.

Cheong Wa Dae said that Kim’s “surprise appearance” at the concert, not previously discussed between the two governments, would contribute to the improvement of inter-Korean ties.

Sunday’s concert was delayed for 80 minutes on Kim’s abrupt decision to attend the concert with his wife. He had been expected to attend the joint performance of South and North Korean musicians slated for Tuesday, but the KCNA said the young leader had other political events to attend on that day.

High-ranking North Korean officials, including the ruler’s sister Kim Yo-jung, the North’s nominal state head Kim Young-nam, the North’s unification committee chief Ri Sun-kwon and Choi Hwi, chairman of the North’s National Sports Guidance Committee, also attended the concert.

The South Korean troupe is to jointly perform with North Korean artists Tuesday at Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium before heading back to the South later in the day on a chartered flight.

Meanwhile, a joint performance by the South and North’s taekwondo athletes was held at 3:30 p.m. (South Korean time) at Pyongyang Grand Theatre. Each team was set to perform for about 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute joint demonstration.

The event was a follow-up to Sunday’s 50-minute performance at Taekwon-Do Hall in Pyongyang. The two Koreas’ respective teams held separate performances on Sunday, with the South’s athletes performing to “Fire” by K-pop group BTS.

Meanwhile, the two Koreas agreed to make a joint entrance at the opening ceremony for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, according to the press pool.

Seoul’s Culture Minister and head of the delegation Do Jong-hwan and his North Korean counterpart Kim Il-gook discussed matters related to expansion of inter-Korean sports exchanges Monday and agreed to a joint entrance at the games.

South and North Korean athletes had walked under the Korean Unification Flag for the opening ceremony at the PyeongChang Olympics in February.

Do previously said Sunday he would discuss a plan for a unified taekwondo team with North Korea, during a brief meeting with South Korean press in Pyongyang.

By Jung Min-kyung & Joint Press Corps (