About the Author
View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
South Korea will send a 160-member art troupe – including Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun and K-pop girl band Red Velvet – to perform two concerts in Pyongyang from March 31 until April 3, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced on Tuesday.
The news follows an inter-Korean meeting on the northern side of Panmunjom, Tongilgak earlier in the day from 1000 to 1346 KST.
The North Korean delegates to the talks were led by head of the Samjiyon Orchestra Hyon Song Wol, along with stage manager An Jong Ho and the group’s deputy director Kim Sun Ho.
On the South Korean side, singer-songwriter and producer Yoon Sang participated in the meeting in his capacity as the musical director of the performing squad, along with unification ministry director-general Park Hyeong-il and senior officials from the Blue House.
Seoul plans to dispatch a 160-member art troupe to visit Pyongyang to stage two concerts at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre and the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium in the DPRK capital.
The unification ministry said the group – which will include performers, staff, support personnel, and reporters – will likely fly to Pyongyang via a direct route along the western coast of the peninsula.
The North has reportedly proposed hosting the South Koreans at Pyongyang’s Koryo Hotel.
Girl band Red Velvet and Girls’ Generation member Seohyun – both managed by major entertainment company SM Entertainment – are included in the art troupe.
When asked whether the North objected to the inclusion of Red Velvet, director-general Park said the DPRK delegation had not raised any concerns or even mentioned the girl band.
Seohyun previously performed with the Samjiyon Orchestra during a performance in Seoul in February.
Singers Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, Choi Jin-hee, Yoon Do-hyun, Baek Z Young, and Ali will also perform in Pyongyang.
Cho, Lee, Choi, and Yoon have all previously performed in Pyongyang, with the Samjiyon Orchestra having played songs by Cho, Lee, and Choi during performances in the South earlier in the year.
The 67-year-old Cho Yong-pil also held a solo concert at the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium in 2005, while visiting Pyongyang on the invitation of the North’s National Reconciliation Council.
Discussing the then-unannounced roster for the trip on Monday, the unification ministry said the composition of the concert would be centered on pop music.
To facilitate the concert, a South Korean preliminary inspection team will visit Pyongyang from Thursday to Saturday, the MOU said, adding the two Koreas will discuss practical issues including stage conditions, ensuring the necessary equipment, and installations for the performances.
Seoul and Pyongyang will further discuss practical matters through the Panmunjom communication channel.
Speaking at Tuesday’s news conference, the unification ministry’s Park Hyeong-il said the ROK and the DPRK delegations were yet to discuss the songs that will be played at the concerts.
Park said the two Koreas are likely to hold a joint concert during the second performance, but that further discussion would be necessary.
“Frankly speaking, there was no major difference in opinion,” he told media.
Cho Yong-pil performs the Korean folk song “Arirang” in Pyongyang in 2005
The North invited South Korean Taekwondo demonstrators and a performing squad to Pyongyang earlier in the month, during a two-day visit by high-level South Korean officials to the DPRK capital.
Should the performance take place as planned, it will be the first visit by South Korean musicians to the North since June 2008, when an art troupe performed at an event on Mt. Kumgang marking the 8th anniversary of the signing of the June 15 joint declaration.
The two Koreas previously agreed to hold a joint culture event on Mount Kumgang at vice-ministerial working-level talks in January, though the DPRK suddenly withdrew from the plans, citing negative press coverage of the country by South Korean outlets.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: http://june14th.tistory.com/78