The Korea Herald


S. Korean pop stars perform with North Koreans

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : April 3, 2018 - 17:39

    • Link copied

The final and second performance by South Korean pop artists in Pyongyang was held Tuesday.

South Korea agreed earlier this month to hold the concert, in a move that was largely seen as an effort to further ease border tensions before the inter-Korean summit slated for April. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Top-tier musicians who performed in the first concert Sunday -- including Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, girl group Red Velvet and Girls’ Generation member Seohyun -- were largely expected to participate in Tuesday’s show scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. (South Korean time) at the 12,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium. Pyongyang adopted its own time zone in 2015, which is 30 minutes behind Seoul.

Under the theme “Spring Comes,” the performance started about an hour earlier than originally planned, upon South Korea’s request, according to the South’s press pool. The specific reason and the person behind the request were not explained.

The performance on Sunday mainly featured the South Korean artists’ original repertoire and songs, although Seoul said the second show was likely to be a joint performance between South and North Korean artists.

Singer and composer Yun Sang, whom Seoul tapped as musical director of the art troupe, told the South’s press pool on Monday that the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra would perform at the second and final show.

He said that the South Korean musicians were planning to perform symbolic numbers about the reunification of the two Koreas, rearranged by the Samjiyon Orchestra.

“(Tuesday’s performance will include) songs rearranged by the Samjiyon Orchestra. I believe the North thinks (of the rearrangement of the songs) as a gift to those who came (to North Korea),” he added.

A Seoul official traveling with the art troupe told reporters that the North Korean side had reduced its performance time to allow the inclusion of as many South Korean songs as possible.

Details about the host of the performance, the complete list of music to be performed and the VIP audience remained unknown as of Tuesday morning.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his wife and senior officials made surprise appearances at Sunday’s concert, making Kim the first North Korean leader to attend such an event. Kim’s initial plan was to attend Tuesday’s concert, but this was changed last-minute due to Kim’s hectic schedule for political events in early April, according to the North’s state-run mouthpiece Korea Central News Agency.

The South Korean artists and a taekwondo demonstration team were set to attend a dinner hosted by North Korean Culture Minister Pak Chun-nam after wrapping up Tuesday’s performance. They were scheduled to leave for Incheon Airport at midnight (South Korean time) but the departure could be delayed, according to Seoul officials.

The South’s taekwondo demonstration team also held a total of two performances during its Pyongyang trip. Seoul’s Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan said Monday the two Koreas would make a joint entrance at the opening ceremony for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, while expressing hopes for a South-North unified taekwondo team at the games.

The art troupe is the first such South Korean group to perform in the isolated nation in more than a decade. Its visit sparked the possibility of further and stronger inter-Korean cultural exchange, with the KCNA reporting Kim’s proposal of another North Korean art troupe performance in the South in the coming fall.

Do confirmed such reports Tuesday, during a meeting with South Korean reporters in Pyongyang, saying that he and Kim “almost simultaneously” proposed the idea of titling it “Autumn Came,” in line with the title of the Pyongyang concert.

“Chairman Kim said there should be another concert in the South since ‘Spring Comes’ was successful,” Do said.

The Pyongyang performances by South Korean artists are viewed as a reciprocation of the North’s agreement to send not only athletes and cheerleaders but also an art troupe and a taekwondo demonstration team to the South for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The Samjiyon Orchestra staged a total of two performances in Gangneung, a subhost city of the Olympics in Gangwon Province, and in Seoul.

The Pyongyang concert comes weeks ahead of a historic inter-Korean summit. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim are to meet at the truce village of Panmunjeom on April 27 for what will be the third inter-Korean summit, following meetings in 2000 and 2007.

By Jung Min-kyung (