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Leader of all-female N.K. band appears as delegate to inter-Korean talks

All Headlines 17:35 January 15, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- Hyon Song-wol, the leader of an all-female North Korean band, made a rare appearance Monday at the tense inter-Korean border, not as a performer, but a delegate to the two Koreas' talks on the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Wearing a Western-style navy blue ensemble and black high heels, she showed up at the venue of the working-level talks on the North's plan to send an art troupe to next month's Olympics, footage provided by Seoul's unification ministry showed.

With a subtle smile on her face, she appeared relaxed as a deputy chief delegate to the talks. Her green clutch bag, whose brand was not identified, stole attention at the meeting room when she took a pocket notebook out of it while sitting down.

Hyon is the leader of the Moranbong Band, which was created by an order of the North's leader Kim Jong-un in July 2012. The band features Western-style music and outfits.

This image, captured from footage provided by Seoul's unification ministry on Jan. 15, 2018 shows Hyon Song-wol, the leader of the Moranbong Band, an all-female North Korean band. As a vice chief delegate, she attended inter-Korean talks on the North's plan to send an art troupe to the South during the Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

Since the North notified the South last week that Hyon was to be among the four-member delegation, media attention has been focused on whether the band will come to the South.

The band is known for their performances of the totalitarian state's propaganda songs, as well as Western pop music, including the theme song of the Hollywood film "Rocky."

Hyon, who is presumed to be in her late 30s, has the highest political status among the delegation.

She was named an alternate member to the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea during a general meeting in October 2017.

A possible appearance of the band in the South may make a buzz, but experts also advise caution regarding the North's intent.

They said that the North seems to be trying to use an art troupe as a tool to win the hearts of South Koreans and improve its image, which would also help its aim of weakening international sanctions.

The Moranbong Band stirred controversy when it abruptly canceled a planned performance in Beijing in December 2015 and returned home.

The reason for that cancellation is not known, but a diplomatic source said that China had decided to send officials of lower rank to the concert in response to Kim Jong-un hinting that Pyongyang had developed a hydrogen bomb.

The North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January 2016, which it claimed was a detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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