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(4th LD) N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un, wife attend performance by S. Korean art troupe

All Headlines 00:48 April 02, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS more details throughout; CHANGES dateline)

SEOUL/PYONGYANG, April 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife attended a historic performance in Pyongyang by a South Korean art troupe on Sunday, the South Korean culture ministry said.

The couple was present for the concert by the 160-member South Korean art troupe at East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, a pool report said. The group included 11 Korean pop musicians such as Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, Choi Jin-hee, Red Velvet and Seohyun of Girls' Generation.

Kim became the first North Korean leader to attend a performance by a South Korean artistic group.

His appearance was somewhat expected as South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended the Seoul performance by a North Korean art troupe called "Samjiyon Orchestra" in February in celebration of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South.

The pool report said the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong and the country's nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam attended the performance as well.

The North Korean leader also insisted that the two Koreas should hold cultural performances more often, suggesting that there should be another event in Seoul around fall under the title "Autumn Comes." Sunday's performance was held under the name "Spring Comes."

Kim had been expected to make an appearance at the joint performance between performers of the two Koreas slated for Tuesday. The pool report said Kim and his wife were seen clapping their hands during Sunday's performance.

Kim was quoted by a South Korean official as saying that, while he originally planned to attend Tuesday's event, he felt it would also be meaningful to watch a performance carried out by only South Korean performers.

"(People were) interested in whether I would attend to see (South Korean girl group) Red Velvet. I originally intended to visit the day after tomorrow, but I adjusted my schedule to come today," Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim also expressed gratitude to the performers for providing Pyongyang citizens with "such a gift."

The North Korean leader said his visit was made in return for Moon's attendance at the joint performance held in Seoul in February.

South Korea's cultural minister Do Jong-whan said Kim asked questions about songs and lyrics during the performance.

The opening time of the event was changed multiple times apparently due to Kim's participation. It was originally scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (Seoul time) but was changed to 7:30 p.m. and eventually to 6:30 p.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd from R) shakes hands with South Korea's Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan in Pyongyang in this pool photo taken on April 1, 2018. (Yonhap)

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