The Republic of Korea (ROK) on Tuesday agreed to send a 160-member art troupe to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) from March 31 to April 3, ahead of a planned summit next month.
According to a statement released by the ROK’s Ministry of Unification, the art troupe will stage two concerts in Pyongyang, one at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater and the other at the Ryukyung Chung Ju Yung Gymnasium.
K-pop artists such as the girl band Red Velvet, Seohyun, a former member of the girl group Girls’ Generation, as well as the country’s music industry veterans Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-hee are among the members.
A group of officials will visit the DPRK from March 22 to 24 in advance, to inspect the sites and ensure the accommodations, according to the ministry. According to the South’s Yonhap News Agency, the East Pyongyang Grand Theater has 1,500 seats, while the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium could accommodate some 12,000 spectators.
Yun Sang, a singer and composer of the ROK, was named as the music director for Seoul’s art troupe. Yun also participated in the inter-Korea talks held on Tuesday, which marked the first time that an entertainer has represented the ROK’s delegation for inter-Korean talks.
But it is not be the first time that a ROK artist has visit Pyongyang. In 1985, musicians from the ROK held their first concert in Pyongyang as part of cultural exchanges, and later in the 2000s, various Korean pop singers, including Cho Yong-pil and idol groups, performed there.
The ROK art troupe’s visit was discussed at the border truce village of Panmunjom, after the DPRK’s art troupe led by Hyon Song Wol, head of the country’s all women Moranbong Band visited the ROK during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Hyon was representing the DPRK during the talks.
Relations between the DPRK and the ROK have thawed since last month’s PyeongChang Olympics, which saw the South and the North [DPRK] marching together in the opening ceremony.
Earlier this month, the two countries also announced a third inter-Korean summit to be held in late April, a move that is hoped to ease tensions within the Peninsula.