South Korean rapper-singer Psy will not perform at two upcoming inter-Korean concerts in the DPRK capital despite attempts by Seoul to include him in the line-up, the ROK’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) announced on Tuesday.
Multiple South Korean media outlets on Monday suggested that the Moon administration had sought to add Psy – most widely known for his record-breaking 2012 hit “Gangnam Style” – to the roster.
Pyongyang reportedly expressed disapproval, however.
“We initially considered the way to work together with Psy, but he stayed out [of the event] this time,” Hwang Seong-woon, spokesperson for the MCST, told media during a special news briefing.
“We look forward to a better opportunity in the future,” he added, declining to provide the further details.
A South Korean delegation of around 190 members led by Minister Do Jongwhan of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will visit the North from Saturday until Tuesday.
The group, which will stay at Pyongyang’s Koryo Hotel, includes artists, Taekwondo demonstrators, staff, reporters, and government officials.
Two concerts are planned, with the South Korean singers staging a two-hour concert at the 1500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on Sunday.
A joint concert with North Korean artists will then be held on Tuesday at the 12,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium in Pyongyang.
The two Koreas earlier in the month agreed that a 160-member art squad, including girl band Red Velvet and Girls’ Generation member Seohyun, would hold two performances in the DPRK.
Tuesday saw the MCST add Jazz pianist Kim Kwang-min and folk-rock singer Kang San-ae to the list of South Korean musicians set to perform.
The ministry said Pyongyang and Seoul are in process of finalizing other technical details, however, including the setlist and emcee for the concerts.
The two Koreas have agreed to co-produce and broadcast the two events. The North’s state broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV) will provide equipment, while the South’s Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) will in charge of shooting and editing the footage.
The performance will be the first of its kind since South Korean singer Cho Yong-pil held a solo concert at the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium in 2005.
The two concerts were firstly proposed by the North during a two-day visit to Pyongyang by a delegation of South Korean special envoys early in the month.
The North invited South Korean artists and Taekwondo demonstrators to Pyongyang to “continue the atmosphere for dialogue and reconciliation” between the two Koreas.
The occasion of the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February saw the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra perform two concerts in Seoul and Gangneung.
Though Samjiyon’s Seoul performance was attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a visiting delegation of DPRK dignitaries, the MCST on Tuesday said Pyongyang was yet to divulge whether top North Koreans officials will be attending the two concerts.
The performing squad will fly to the North in two groups, with an advance party of around 70 technical staff arriving in the DPRK capital on Thursday morning.
The rest of the delegation will fly to Pyongyang on Saturday.
The two groups will then return to the South on Tuesday night, using one passenger plane and one cargo plane for equipment.
The delegation will fly using the South’s low-cost airline Eastar Jet, while equipment will be carried through a private chartered flight run by Air Incheon.
The advance team will depart from Gimpo Airport at 1030 KST on Thursday using one freighter and airliner, flying a direct South-North direct flight route along the western coast of the peninsula.
The chief delegate, the artists, and the Taekwondo team will then arrive at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport on Saturday.
“We have been amicably proceeding the discussion with concerned countries on sanctions against North Korea related to the usage of the private planes,” the MCST spokesperson told press.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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