After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced back in January that he was interested in sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, diplomatic efforts have increased between North and South Korea.
And now, a troupe of South Korean pop stars will be performing in Pyongyang for the first time since 2005. More than 150 musicians will be traveling to North Korea’s capital city to perform in a series of shows between March 31 and April 3. Taking place at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre and the Ryukyung Chung Ju Yung Gymnasium, the acts performing include superstar group Red Velvet and singers like Cho Yong-Pil, Lee Sun-hee, and Yoon Sang.
The visit was decided after a series of talks between the two countries held in the border area of Panmunjom. Cho is the most recent South Korean singer to have performed in North Korea, at a concert in Pyongyang in 2005. Sang, a singer and record producer who led the talks, said, “While we’re on the stage, I believe it will be difficult to portray personal feelings towards denuclearization. Our first task will be to instill the same awe in North Korean audiences as we do our South Korean ones, and make sure nothing is awkward.”
The East Pyongyang Grand Theatre hosted another historic performance in 2008 when the New York Philharmonic performed. Officials from the South Korean Unification Ministry will be inspecting the sites prior to the performances to ensure they can accommodate the singers.
Just today, South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested a three-way summit between the two Koreas and the United States — a proposal dependent on the outcome of the planned North-South summit next month and President Trump’s meeting with Jong-un before the end of May.
In a country where most citizens are blocked from any outside news or information, will the groups be censored in any way? “When it comes to the list of songs, I don’t think it will take a long time if we talk about the songs they know,” Sang said. “Some sensitivity remains regarding which songs we’ll choose.”