In a surprise move, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri SoL Ju attended the concert of South Korean K-pop singers in Pyongyang. Such an event is being held for the first time in more than a decade as tensions between the two countries softens.
The leader was seen clapping in tune to some of the songs and even took photographs with the artists after the show.
The musical show, along with a separate taekwondo performance is part of South Korea’s engagement with North Korea, which has continued ever since Kim expressed his wish for more contact between the two states.
Athletes from North and South Korea marched under a unified peninsula flag at the opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February and the significant thaw in the inter-Korean relations has led them to set a date for their first summit in more than a decade on April 27.
A group of artists, concert staff, taekwondo demonstrators, reporters and government officials were among those who visited the isolated country.
“(Kim Jong Un) showed much interest during the show and asked questions about the songs and lyrics,” Culture Minister Do Jong-whan told reporters after the show.
Sunday’s concert was held under the title “Spring is Coming” at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, performed by an elite lineup of 11 South Korean artists including veteran vocalists Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, rock star Yoon Do-hyun, singer Baek Ji-young as well as K-pop girl band Red Velvet.
Cho Yong-pil, a 68-year-old singer, sang a string of hits including “The Cafe in the Winter”, “Short Hair” and “Let’s Go on a Trip”. Cho had held a solo concert in Pyongyang in 2005 – the last concert by a South Korean artist in the North before Sunday’s performance.
The same South Korean performers will be joining hands with the North Korean artists to put up a show on Tuesday at the Ryukyung Chung Ju Yung Gymnasium, a joint project between the North and South named after Hyundai Group billionaire founder Chung Ju-yung who had long advocated inter-Korean cultural and economic exchange.