North Korea on Monday agreed to send 140 members of the Samjiyon Orchestra to South Korea during next month’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The two Koreas held working-level talks over the dispatch of the North Korean performing squad in Tongilgak, on the northern side of Panmunjom.
“The North will send a performing squad of 140 Samjiyon Orchestra members to the South,” a joint press statement said. “The North’s performing squad will hold performances in Gangneung and Seoul.”
The musicians plan to come to South Korea by land, a unification ministry official told NK News.
“The North Korean side requested to visit South Korea via an overland route,” an official, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “But the detailed route should be discussed.”
The Samjiyon Band of the Mansudae Art Troupe has appeared on DPRK state TV, performing, among other things, the soundtracks of eight American-produced animated films in a concert to mark New Year’s Day last year.
Seoul’s Ministry of Unification told NK News it is unsure whether the band coming to Pyeongchang will be the same band, however.
Pyongyang also shared plans to send a “preliminary inspection team within the earliest possible time.”
“Practical matters including venue, stage conditions, and equipments and installation of equipment necessary for the performance of the North’s performing squad will be solved amicably through consultation between the South and the North,” the statement said.
“The South will ensure the safety and convenience of the North’s performing squad to the utmost extent.”
Pyongyang and Seoul also agreed to continue discussing other practical issues through the Panmunjom communications channel.
“The government will make do our utmost and prepare so that the North Korean art troupe performance can contribute to the improvement of the South-North relations and the restoration of cultural homogeneity…,” the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) said in a press statement.
The unification ministry said four South Korean and five North Korean delegates participated in Monday’s meeting.
Kwon Hyok Bong, director of arts and performance bureau at the DPRK Ministry of Culture, led the North Korean delegation.
The stage manager of North Korea’s arts group An Jong Ho, leader of North Korea’s national orchestra Hyon Song Wol, and orchestra deputy director Kim Sun Ho also took part.
Pyongyang on Saturday suggested conductor Yun Bom Ju of North Korea’s orchestra as a delegate, but Yun was replaced with An on Sunday.
Lee Woo-sung, Deputy Minister at the Culture and Arts Policy Office at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), served as South Korea’s chief delegate.
CEO of the Korean Symphony Orchestra Lee Won-choul, artistic director at Korean Symphony Orchestra Chong Chi-yong, and Director at the Ministry of Unification Han Jong-wook also participated in the meeting.
The two Koreas on Monday agreed to hold a working-level meeting on January 17, to discuss North Korean participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The South Korean unification ministry on Monday said that Seoul has suggested forming a joint women’s ice hockey team with North Korea to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics.
“I’m aware that the consultation is underway…,” Baik Tae-hyun, spokesperson for the unification ministry, said during a regular news briefing.
“However, there has been no consensus on the specific scale and future plans. So, I think additional discussions over the issues are needed.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Uriminzokkiri
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