K-Pop sensations set to perform in Pyongyang

SEOUL, April 1 (UPI) — South Korea’s biggest pop acts including Cho Yong-pil, Seohyun and Red Velvet prepared to stage a rare concert in North Korea Sunday, as the two Koreas continue efforts to improve ties ahead of a cross-border summit later this month.

According to a pool report, the performance was set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Seoul time at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre located in the capital, after the schedule was adjusted twice to accommodate a large amount of people.

Eleven South Korean singers and bands performed some of their biggest hits as well as traditional folk songs, under the two-hour program titled “Spring is Coming.”

K-Pop legends Cho Yong-pil and 61-year-old Choi Jin-hee, who have previously performed in the North, took stage at the 1,500-seat venue.

Younger acts included rock and folk singer Yoon Do-hyun; Seohyeon, a former member of South Korea’s biggest girl group Girls Generation; girl band Red Velvet and popstar Baek Ji-young.

The musicians are scheduled to hold a joint show with North Korean artists at the 12,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium on Tuesday.

The two Koreas agreed last month that the South would send a 190-member arts troupe to Pyongyang, including the high-profile musicians, 20 taekwondo practicioners and technical staff.

The last South Korean performance in the North was held in 2005, when Cho Yong-pil held a solo concert in Pyongyang.

Culture Minister Do Jong-whan, who led the delegation, told reporters Saturday that he hopes the performances will contribute to expanding cross-border exchanges, which recently began on the occasion of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

“Our mainstream artists and I will do our best to make a success of the historic concerts in Pyongyang, which are the first in 13 years [to be held by South Koreans],” he said in a statement.

Do added that he will meet with North Korean officials during his four-day trip to expand cooperation.
Before the concert was held, the troupe’s taekwondo demonstration squad showcased their moves at the 2,300-seat Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall.

Under the theme, “Spark,” the South Korean martial artists performed the two-part demonstration from 4:30 p.m.

“Although the South and North both practice Taekwondo and share the same root, [the martial art] developed in different ways for each side. We are happy to share our style of Taekwondo,” said Lee Eui-sung, captain of the demonstration team. “I hope we the South and North can demonstrate Taekwondo together, showing one Taekwondo, and promote it as the martial art of our people.”

The South Korean arts troupe returns home Tuesday.