Red Velvet's Joy will not travel to Pyongyang

BLACKPINK to embark on 1st Japanese tour in July

Red Velvet's Joy will not travel to Pyongyang

The cultural events are aimed at maintaining a reconciliatory atmosphere ahead of a historic summit between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27th.

The rapid rapprochement was kicked off by last month's Winter Olympics in the South and comes after a year of heightened tensions over the North's nuclear and missile programmes, which saw Kim and Trump engage in a fiery war of words.

"The whole objective of cultural exchange is to open the gates for better relations between the North and the South, which have been strained for a decade", said Professor Kang Dong Wan at Dong-a University and a leader of the Busan Hana Centre, an institute that helps North Korean defectors in the South Korean port city of Busan. No date has been set for the US-North Korean summit although it is expected before the end of May.

Yesterday's concert to a packed audience at the elaborately decorated 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre ended with a standing ovation after a finale in which all the stars appeared on stage to sing a song about unification.

The same South Korean singers will hold a joint concert with North Korean performers on Tuesday at the Ryukyung Chung Ju Yung Gymnasium, a joint project between the North and South named after Hyundai Group billionaire founder Chung Ju-yung who had long advocated inter-Korean cultural and economic exchange.

The 120-member group, including top girlband Red Velvet, flew from Seoul's Gimpo airport aboard a chartered civilian flight to Pyongyang via the rarely used direct air route between the two Koreas, as a rapprochement on the peninsula gathers pace.

"It is our great honor to perform with veteran singers".

Many North Korean defectors say they have seen South Korean TV dramas and heard K-pop music through blackmarket USB drives in the North despite an official ban on the 'decadent capitalist culture. "Unfortunately, she won't be able to attend the concert".

This was the first time a South Korean group had come to the North to perform in over 10 years. Smuggled across the border on USB sticks and bootleg DVDs, K-pop has spread widely among the families of North Korea's political elite, Prof Kang said.

South Korean artists pose for a photo at the Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday.

The stiffened crowd refused to respond to the athletes who asked them to clap their hands to Fire - an intense electro-dance score peppered with rapid-fire rap delivered in both Korean and English.

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