Published: Mon, April 02, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

North Korean leader attends concert by South Korean pop stars

North Korean leader attends concert by South Korean pop stars

K-pop stars are set to perform at a concert along with 10 other music groups from South Korea in Pyongyang on April 1 - a month ahead of a much-anticipated inter-Korean summit.

This is the first time since November 2007 that South Korean artists have performed in the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday attended the first concert in Pyongyang for over a decade by South Korean entertainers, including a K-pop girlband, the latest gesture of reconciliation before a rare inter-Korean summit.

Among the 120-strong delegates were former Girls' Generation member Seohyun, Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, Choi Jin-hee, Yoon Do-hyun, Baek Ji-young, Jungin, Seohyun, Ali, Kang San-eh, Kim Kwang-min and Red Velvet's Irene, Seulgi, Yeri and Wendy - who are without Joy, who now stars on the MBC drama Tempted.

Kim and his wife, a former singer herself, came to watch yesterday's show, making him the first leader of the North to attend a concert by South Korean performers.

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. Kim is also expected to meet President Trump in May in a separate summit.

The now 53-year-old travelled to the North for a joint concert in 2003, which marked the opening of the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium - one of the performance venues for the upcoming concert.

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The ongoing rapprochement was triggered by the South's Winter Olympics, to which the North's leader Kim Jong-un sent athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy. Riding on the momentum, North Korea is set to hold talks with the U.S. on denuclearization before the end of May. As a result, the singer will not take part in the concert. The girl group is to sing two of its recent hits: "Red Flavor" and "Bad Boy".

South Korean girl band Red Velvet is seen after their performance in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, April 1, 2018.

Another member, Seulgi, appeared red-eyed as she bid farewell to the audience at the end of the concert, apparently overcome with emotion.

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.

They have won over buttoned-up investors at a banking conference with their jingles about teenage love, but the K-pop girl band Red Velvet is about to face what may be its toughest audience yet: North Korea.

South Korean actress and singer Seohyun speaks to the media before departing for Pyongyang from Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. She made a surprise appearance alongside a North Korean classical music ensemble during their performance in Seoul last month.

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