Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(LEAD) N. Korean art troupe performs in Seoul to celebrate Olympics

All Headlines 23:28 February 11, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with Hyon's solo performance and more details in paras 5,7-9, 14-15; ADDS photos)
By Shim Sun-ah and Joint Press Corps

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean art troupe staged a historic concert in Seoul on Sunday night to celebrate the first Winter Olympics in South Korea with President Moon Jae-in and the North's high-level delegation in attendance.

The art troupe called Samjiyon Orchestra, which consists of 140 orchestra members, singers and dancers, performed at the Haeoreum Hall of the National Theater of Korea in downtown Seoul.

Among the North Koreans attending the Seoul concert were Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and the country's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam.

Seohyun, a member of South Korean pop group Girls' Generation, hugs a North Korean singer during the Samjiyon Orchestra's performance in Seoul on Feb. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim Yo-jong and Kim Yong-nam sat to the right of President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook. Sitting on her left were Do Jong-whan, minister of culture, sports and tourism, and Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

The grand finale of the concert was North Korean song, "Let's Meet Again," and a common Korean song titled, "Our Wish Is Unification," both sung together by Seohyun, a member of South Korean pop group Girls' Generation, and a North Korean female octet.

Seohyun, wearing a short, white minidress and high-heeled shoes, and the North's octet ended the concert, performing in perfect harmony the song with a theme reflecting the two Koreas' desire for reunification.

The performers hugged as the audience gave them a standing ovation.

Hyon Song-wol, leader of North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra, performs during a concert by the North Korean art troupe, at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul, on Feb. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

Another highlight of the concert was the surprise appearance of Hyon Song-wol, head of the Samjiyon Orchestra, on the stage.

"I came here to the South by crossing the border twice. In the process I felt saddened by the reality that Pyongyang and Seoul are located so close but feel so far away from each other," she said. "I'm in a bad condition because I have a sore throat from Gangneung, but please applaud me a little bit more loudly than other singers so I can save face as the director," Hyon said, resulting in thunderous applause.

She then sang a North Korean song titled "Paektu and Halla Are My Fatherland." Her solo performance was later joined by the North's orchestra and female singers.

Kim Yong-nam (L), president of North Korea's Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, wipes away tears as he watches a concert, staged by the North's Samjiyon Orchestra, at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul on Feb. 11, 2018. Also at the concert are North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister and special envoy, Kim Yo-jong (2nd from L), South Korean President Moon Jae-in (3rd from L), Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook (R). (Yonhap)

It was the Samjiyon Orchestra's second and final performance in South Korea since it arrived here Tuesday aboard the North Korean ferry Mangyeongbong-92. On Thursday, it held a concert in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics that kicked off in the eastern apine town of PyeongChang the following day for a 17-day run.

The earlier performance was the first by North Koreans in the South since August 2002.

Except the finale song, most of the group's playlist was similiar to that in Gangneung. It ranged from traditional and pop songs familiar to both countries to classical music by Mozart. The art troupe also performed American folk and pop songs such as "Red River Valley," "Old Black Joe," and "Those Were the Days."

About 1,500 people attended the performance, among them 1,000 were ordinary citizens chosen by lottery. Others were special invitees picked by the government. They included Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon; Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho; Archbishop Kim Hee-joong; theater actors Son Sook and Park Jeong-ja; and pianist Son Yeol-eum.

Even after the concert was over, the North Korean art troupe stayed on the stage for more than five minutes to respond to the audience.

The members were smiling brightly in general but showed regret for parting from South Koreans, waving to the audience several times as they left the stage.

The North Korean art troupe is to return home across the western land border around noon Monday, wrapping up its six-day stay in the South.

(LEAD) N. Korean art troupe performs in Seoul to celebrate Olympics - 3


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!