Published: Tue, April 03, 2018
Culture | By Glenn Strickland

North Korean Leader Attends K-Pop Concert in Pyongyang

North Korean Leader Attends K-Pop Concert in Pyongyang

Tension over North Korea's tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile surged previous year and raised fears of US military action in response to North Korea's threat to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.

Seohyun, an actress and vocalist with South Korean girl group Girls' Generation, sang a North Korean pop song called "Blue Willow Tree".

Speaking after the performance, Red Velvet members said that they'd been surprised by the warm reception.

However, the United States has said that its leader will only hold talks with Kim if North Korea agrees to denuclearize, after Trump agreed to meet him.

The North Korean audience clapped, cheered, sang along to some of the songs and later presented the South Korean performers with bouquets.

"Many wanted to know if I would come to see Red Velvet". "Originally, I planned to come the day after tomorrow but I adjusted my schedule and came today".

Pool TV footage also showed Kim, clad in a dark Mao-style suit, clapping from the second-floor VIP stand as South Korean Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan bowed and greeted North Korean spectators looking on from the first floor.

The recent thaw in relations, which could even lead to a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in May, follows months of increased tensions after North Korea conducted missile launches and a nuclear test a year ago in defiance of United Nations Security Council sanctions.

"North Korea is still very conservative about men singing and dancing", said Philo Kim, a professor at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies in Seoul.

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In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and threatened to test atomic weapons. There will be another event on Tuesday that will showcase the talents of South Korean acts.

In fact, Kim Jong Un, who became the first North Korean leader to attend a K-pop concert, may have actually enjoyed it.

Is this a start of a harmonious relationship between two countries?

The last time a South Korean artist performed in the North was in 2005, when Cho Yong-pil held a solo concert in Pyongyang. The concert at the elaborately decorated 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre ended with a standing ovation by the packed audience after a finale featuring all the stars singing a song about unification.

Whether Pyongyang authorities would make any demands was a matter of debate in South Korea's media because the general public in North Korea is strictly banned from listening to K-pop.

The girl band Red Velvet, part of the South's K-pop phenomenon that has drawn wide attention in Asia and elsewhere, was considered the headliner of the tour.

Kim met with Red Velvet and other South Korean performers after the show, shaking hands with them and expressing his "deep thanks", according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

It was the first time in 10 years that the South Korean, globally followed, bands traveled to perform in North Korea after ties between the two nations seem to be on the mend as they prepare for a historic summit later this month. Kim praised the group, who has more than 4.6 million Instagram followers, for their wonderful performance as well as asked the art troupe, which consists of 160 members from different entertainment field, to extend his appreciation to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a wonderful concert.

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