News World Kim Jong-un’s K-pop concert turn shows further thawing of tensions

Kim Jong-un’s K-pop concert turn shows further thawing of tensions

Kim Jong-un attends K Pop concert
Kim Jong-un with South Korea's Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Do Jong-whan at the concert. Photo: AAP
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol Ju have attended a concert featuring South Korean K-pop singers performing in the North for the first time in more than a decade, as tensions between the two countries thaw.

Kim Jong-un was seen clapping along with many of the songs and later took photographs with the performers after the show.

The two-hour concert marks the first time a North Korean leader has attended a South Korean performance in the capital.

Sunday’s concert in the capital, Pyongyang, along with a separate taekwondo performance earlier in the day, comes as South Korea’s engagement with North Korea has continued to grow since Kim expressed his willingness for more contact between the two countries.

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.

The two Koreas are technically still at war after the 1950-1953 conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace agreement.

Kim Jong-un attends K Pop concert
South Korean groups perform during a concert rehearsal in Pyongyang. Photo: AAP

The South Korean delegation included artists, concert staff, taekwondo demonstrators, reporters and government officials. They travelled to Pyongyang on Saturday in a reciprocal cultural visit after North Korea sent performers to the South in February, the South’s Culture Ministry 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.

Sunday’s concert was held under the title “Spring is Coming” at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, performed by an elite line-up 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.

In addition to the concert, a team of South Korean taekwondo demonstrators performed on Sunday at the Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall, drawing more than 2300 North Koreans, including Choe Hwi, chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee.

The same South Korean singers will hold a joint concert with North Korean performers 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.

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