Part of the South Korean art troupe and taekwondo players who were scheduled to give performances in Pyongyang ahead of a historic inter-Korean summit headed to North Korea on Saturday.
Led by Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Do Jong-whan, 120 members of the troupe left Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport at 10:30 a.m. in a chartered civilian flight. They will travel through a direct air route between Seoul and Pyongyang over the Yellow Sea.
Celebrated K-pop artists including Cho Yong-pil, girl band Red Velvet and Seohyun from girl band Girls’ Generation are part of the 190-member delegation. The troupe will perform on Sunday and Tuesday.
Seventy technical crew members flew to the North on Thursday to prepare the stages ahead of the two concerts.
Accompanying the troupe on Saturday are staff members, journalists and government officials tasked with supporting the performers.
The performances will be the first by South Korean artists in the North since 2005, when Cho Yong-pil had a solo concert in the North’s capital.
“I, along with Korean pop musicians, will do my best to make the historic first Pyongyang concerts by South Koreans in 13 years successful,” Do said in a statement he read at the airport. “I hope the inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation that resumed during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will further increase with the South Korean art troupe’s performances in Pyongyang an occasion.”
Do said that while in Pyongyang he will meet with North Korean figures in the fields to discuss ways to expand bilateral cooperation.
“I feel honor and unexplainably high pressure at the same time,” said Yoon Sang, a composer who is the musical director of the art troupe, at the airport. “We’ll do our best out of the aspiration that spring of peace should come to the Korean Peninsula as in the concerts’ title ‘Spring Comes.'”
K-pop legend Cho said that he will “comfortably perform in the North as I do here.”
“I and all other singers already finished practicing, are not nervous now and will show our music in a pleasant and comfortable mood. We’ll return after performing well.”
The concerts “Spring Comes” showcase 11 South Korean acts, including Cho Yong-pil, Lee Sun-hee, Choi Jin-hee, Yoon Do-hyun, Baek Ji-young, Red Velvet, Jungin, Seohyun, Ali, Kang San-eh and Kim Kwang-min.
The musicians will perform at the 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theater on Sunday for two hours starting at 5:30 p.m. (South Korean time). They will also perform in a joint concert with North Korean artists for two hours on Tuesday afternoon at the 12,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium.
The shows will be taped and edited by South Korean broadcaster MBC to be made into a joint TV program for both countries.
Seohyun will reportedly host the Pyongyang concerts. She collaborated with North Korean singers during the historic Seoul performance by the North’s Samjiyon artistic group last month.
The South Korean delegation will return home Tuesday night.
Source: THE KOREA TIMES