Global News

North Korean leader attends concert by South Korean pop stars

North Korean leader attends concert by South Korean pop stars

Fifteen years later, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seeking to engage the region's major powers after advances in his nuclear programme prompted the United Nations to tighten sanctions and President Donald Trump to threaten war.

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

The performances will be the first by South Korean artists in the North since 2005, when Cho Yong-pil had a solo concert at the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium.

"The whole objective of cultural exchange is to open the gates for better relations between the North and the South, which have been strained for a decade", Kang Dong-wan, a professor at Dong-a University and a leader of the Busan Hana Center, an institute that helps North Korean defectors in the South Korean port city of Busan, told Bloomberg.

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.

South Korean Taekwondo athletes gave performances at the Taekwon-Do Hall on Sunday and are scheduled to hold a joint performance with North Korean athletes at the Pyongyang Grand Theatre on Monday.

The South Korean musicians taking part include singers and bands from a variety of genres, ranging from traditional folk songs to trendier K-pop, while some 20 taekwondo performers have also travelled.

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Meanwhile, the summit planned for April 27 with South Korea President Moon Jae In on the southern side of the border's demilitarised zone would make Mr Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea.

The rapprochement was triggered by the South's Winter Olympics, to which the North's leader Kim Jong Un sent athletes, cheerleaders and his powerful sister as an envoy.

In another sign of eased tensions, an annual US-South Korean military exercise which got under way in the South Sunday will last for just one month compared to some two months normally.

Many North Korean defectors say they have seen South Korean TV dramas and heard K-pop music through black-market USB drives in the North despite an official ban on the "decadent capitalist culture". On Tuesday, the two Koreas plan to hold a joint performance. "Unfortunately, she will not be able to attend the concert", said the source.

Seohyun of Girls' Generation, Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee and rocker Yoon Do-hyun are also slated to perform.

The stiffened crowd refused to respond to the athletes who asked them to clap their hands to Fire - an intense electro-dance score peppered with rapid-fire rap delivered in both Korean and English.


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