PYONGYANG/SEOUL, April 3 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have made a song request at a rare concert by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang, according to pool reports Tuesday.
On Sunday, a 160-member South Korean artistic group performed in Pyongyang for the first time in more than a decade in return for a North Korean art troupe's visit to Seoul in February to celebrate the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The art delegation's roster included legendary Korean pop icon Cho Yong-pil and Red Velvet, one of K-pop's biggest girl groups today.
According to Yoon Sang, the musical director for the South Korean artists, "Belated Regret," a South Korean ballad released by sibling duo Hyeonee and Deokee in 1985, was reportedly the most well received song at the concert held at the 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre. The song, which was not in the initially agreed set list, is believed to have been performed at the request of Kim.
"'Belated Regret' is such a beloved song here in the North. The mood was exceptionally good when that song was performed, and I'm told that it is one of the most popular Southern songs here," Yoon told South Korean reporters covering the art troupe in Pyongyang late Monday at the Koryo Hotel.
Choi Jin-hee, singer of the classic hit "Maze of Love," was the South Korean artist who performed "Belated Regret" on Sunday.
"I wanted to perform 'Maze of Love' and my other songs, but the organizers here asked me to sing 'Belated Regret.' I didn't even know that song and was baffled as to why I had to perform a title that wasn't mine," Choi told reporters on Monday.
The trot artist, who had previously given three performances in the North, then shared her encounter with Kim after the concert.
"Later Chairman Kim came down and shook my hand, then said, 'Thank you for singing that song.' I realized why the organizers asked me to sing 'Belated Regret,'" Choi said.
At a rehearsal held last week in Seoul before heading to Pyongyang, Choi stated that she wasn't familiar with the song but was aware that it was a request made by the North.
Yoon stated that "Belated Regret" best matched Choi's singing style. "Perhaps it could be labeled semi-trot. It's a classic song which is beloved here. Out of all the singers, I thought it would be best for Choi to perform it."
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