South Korean musicians held a rare joint concert with North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra at a 12,000-seat stadium in Pyongyang, DPRK on Tuesday.
The performance, the first of its kind since 2003, began at 1500 local time at the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium.
K-pop stars including Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation member Seohyun, Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, Choi Jin-hee, Yoon Do-hyun, Baek Z Young, and Ali performed alongside North Korean artists.
The concert, titled “We are One,” featured mainly South Korean songs, with Seohyun and North Korea’s Choe Hyo Sung serving as emcees, the South Korean joint press pool in Pyongyang reported.
Seohyun’s performance of the North Korean song “Blue Willow Tree” received an “enthusiastic response,” reports said, as the audience were seen clapping and singing along.
The North Korean spectators, however, were more staid when Red Velvet performed their song “Red Flavor,” according to the pool report.
Red Velvet, Baek, Lee, Jung-in, Choi also performed the song “Both Paektu and Halla Belong to my Motherland” alongside singers from the DPRK’s Samjiyon Orchestra.
Singers from the two Koreas sang songs including “To J,” while the Samjiyon Orchestra also provided an individual performance.
The curtain fell as North and South Korean singers held hands and sang the songs “Until We Meet Again” and “Our Wish is Reunification.”
Vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Yong Chol and Chairman of the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) Ri Son Gwon attended the event.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, however, did not.
Speaking at a news conference with the ROK press pool in Pyongyang on Monday night, director of the ROK art troupe Yoon Sang said that had not been quite enough time for the Samjiyon Orchestra and the South Korean band to prepare.
“If we have the chance, we will be able to perform a great song with full-scale Samjiyon Orchestra,” Yoon said. “When thinking about it, it will leave much to be desired if [the joint-performance] ends as a one-off event.”
The South Korean artists – who arrived in the DPRK capital on Saturday – staged an individual concert on Sunday at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his wife Ri Sol Ju, and his sister Kim Yo Jong were in attendance.
Yoon on Monday said he wished that the South Korean singers could have sung more North Korean songs at the concert after seeing the local audience’s reaction to Seohyun’s performance of the famous local song “Blue Willow Tree.”
“Tears ran down in my eyes, and I thought that we should have prepared more as they (the North Koreans) liked it so much,” he said.
The North Korean leader also reportedly particularly enjoyed a rendition of the song “Man is Ship, Woman is Harbor,” originally sung by South Korean singer Sim Soo Bong but performed by the Yoon Do-hyun Band (YB) on Sunday.
Minister Do Jong-whan of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) said the song had “brightened up” the leader’s face, and that he had called Yoon to ask about the arrangement.
Kim also asked multiple questions about the other performances, Do told pool reporters on Tuesday morning at the Koryo Hotel, adding he was particularly interested in the singer Baek Z Young.
“He has considerable interest in singers and songs,” the minister added.
Sunday also saw Kim Jong Un propose another inter-Korean concert in autumn to take place in the South Korean capital.
Minister Do said he and Kim had decided on the title for the prospective performance – “Autumn Came” – “almost simultaneously,” telling press it was as though the two had “read each other’s minds.”
The roughly 190-member South Korean delegation is set to complete what has been a four-day trip to Pyongyang on Tuesday night.
Before departure, Do and the South Korean art troupe will attend a banquet with Kim Yong Chol at 1930 local time.
Their flight is scheduled to leave Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport at 2330 local time and arrive at Incheon International Airport at 0130 KST on Wednesday.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean Art Performance Press Corps