S. Korean Art Troupe Returns from Pyongyang open the window of AOD

Write : 2018-04-08


A South Korean art troupe and a taekwondo demonstration team returned home Wednesday after holding performances in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
The musicians and martial artists led by Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan were greeted by some 200 journalists and hoards of fans upon their arrival at Incheon International Airport.
The performers left for North Korea on March 31st. The 160-member art troupe, including eleven celebrated pop acts, performed twice in Pyongyang on April first and third.
The first concert, titled "Spring Comes", saw the South Korean singers perform 26 songs at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater.
For the second show called "We Are One" held at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium, the South Korean stars performed with North Korean musicians.
The taekwondo team also performed twice in Pyongyang.
The last South Korean cultural performance in Pyongyang was 13 years ago when pop legend Cho Yong-pil held his concert there in 2005. Cho was among the singers who performed in the North this time around.
The latest visit was notable for North Korea's more relaxed attitude and openness. Its leader Kim Jong-un attended the first concert and even spoke with the South Korean performers.
This marks the first time ever for a North Korean leader to watch a South Korean cultural performance. Kim even proposed holding another event in Seoul titled "Autumn Comes."
North Korean media was also different this time in its eager coverage of the South’s visit. Though reporting was focused on Kim Jong-un's attendance, it's still unusual for South Korean pop music to be relayed to the North Korean public in great detail.
North Korea also quickly apologized over South Korean reporters' protest to being barred from entering the first concert. The North also provided the South Koreans with Internet and mobile phone access.
These moves are a stark contrast from Pyongyang's past hostility towards South Korean or Western pop culture.
But the changes are seen more as an effort to maintain a conciliatory mood ahead of the inter-Korean summit later this month rather than a substantive transition to a cultural open-door policy.
A North Korean art troupe had performed in the South in February to mark the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The back and forth cultural exchanges between the two Koreas are expected to have positive effects on cross-border dialogue.

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