Dictator Kim Jong-un goes pop as Korean tensions thaw

03 April, 2018, 06:23 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wife Ri Sol Ju and Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan pose for

Red Velvet, a five-woman pop group that has found enormous success in recent years, was one of the big names to headline the show.

The North Korean leader appeared in a group photograph with the performers, distributed by North Korean media.

"We should hold culture and art performances frequently", Kim told South Korean performers.

The North is planning to hold a major parliamentary meeting on April 11, in which the country's rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, usually makes critical decisions on spending, legal revisions and personnel reshuffles at state organs. He actually attended a cultural event of South Korean troops in Pyongyang.

"Many wanted to know if I would come to see Red Velvet. I had initially planned to attend a performance the day after tomorrow but I came here today after adjusting my schedule", Kim was quoted as saying. "I thank you for this kind of gift to Pyongyang citizens", Kim said.

"(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. As well, Kim Jong Un has shown he is willing to negotiate and meet President Trump.

Reacting to Kim's meeting with Jinping, Trump said he was happy with the development, however, he stated that "maximum sanction and pressure" must be maintained against North Korea "at all cost".

The event marked the first time a North Korean leader had ever attended a performance by entertainers from the South.

Is this a start of a harmonious relationship between two countries? K-Pop - characterized by its manufactured melodies and slick approach to marketing - has penetrated into North Korea over the past 10 years.

However, last Sunday, Kim Jong Un was clapping along and posing for pictures with the music group.

Kim Yo-jong also became the first member from Pyongyang's ruling family to visit South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

In addition to K-pop girl band Red Velvet, starlet Seohyun of Girls' Generation, singers Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-hee, and rocker Yoon Do-hyun were among those who traveled north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) - the heavily fortified border dividing the two Koreas - for two concerts in the North Korean capital.

Echoing the concert theme, Kim said the performance had brought a "spring of peace" to the two Koreas, and expressed wishes for a "prosperous autumn", according to the North's news agency.

Members of K-pop girlband Red Velvet after rehearsal for their concert at the 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang on April 1, 2018.

The same South Korean singers will hold another concert with North Korean performers on Tuesday.

The recent thaw, which could see the first-ever summit between sitting USA and North Korean leaders by the end of May, follows months of soaring tensions as the North conducted its most powerful nuclear test and launched more than 20 missiles - including two intermediate-range weapons that flew over Japan and another long-range missile that experts say puts the whole of the United States in striking distance.

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