BY HYUNG-JIN KIM
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Tuesday it will send a 160-member artistic group to North Korea, including about 10 celebrated K-Pop singers, for rare concerts there.
The South Korean musical artists will visit Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, from March 31 to April 3 and give two performances, according to a joint statement issued after the two Koreas met at a border village.
The development comes during a thaw in the North Korean nuclear crisis. A North Korean band performed in South Korea during the recently ended Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The South Korean delegation will include some of the country’s pop legends, including Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sunhee and Cho Jin Hee, who performed in Pyongyang during a previous era of detente. Popular girl band Red Velvet is also among the South Korean groups, the statement said.
South Korea last sent a pop singer to North Korea in 2005, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry.
During Tuesday’s talks, the two Koreas were unable to agree on which songs the South Korean singers will sing in Pyongyang, a potentially sensitive issue in a country where most citizens are blocked from accessing outside information. But South Korean delegates said they are optimistic an agreement can be reached, saying they will exchange letters via a cross-border communication channel.
“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,” said chief South Korean delegate Yoon Sang, a popular singer and composer. “Some sensitivity remains regarding which songs we’ll choose.”
The Koreas also haven’t agreed on who else will be included in the South Korean artistic delegation other than K-Pop singers. Past South Korean performances in the North included a joint symphony concert, an opera and folk music.
Yoon’s North Korean counterpart in the talks was Hyon Song Wol, leader of the North’s only girl band. She also headed another North Korean band which performed in the South during the Olympics. Her planning visit to South Korea in January triggered a media frenzy.
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