North Korea orchestra to play at Games

Source:AFP Published: 2018/1/16 0:18:40

140 players to perform concerts in Seoul and near Pyeongchang

The head of South Korean delegation Lee Woo-sung (right) and his North Korean counterpart Kwon Hook-bong shake hands before their meeting over the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, at the north side of Panmunjom village in North Korea. Photo: VCG

A 140-member North Korean orchestra will perform in South Korea during next month's Winter Olympic Games, the two sides announced Monday, amid a tentative rapprochement after months of tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

The North agreed last week to send athletes, high-level officials and others to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

The two sides agreed an artistic troupe would be part of the delegation, and four officials from each country met Monday at the border truce village of Panmunjom to thrash out details of that visit.

The 140 members of the Samjiyon Orchestra will hold concerts in the capital Seoul and the eastern city of Gangneung close to Pyeongchang which is hosting the Games, said a joint statement after the talks.

"The South will ensure the safety and convenience of the North's performing squad to the utmost extent," it said, without elaborating on the dates for the concerts.

The concerts, if they go ahead, would mark the first time that a North Korean artistic troupe has performed in the capitalist South since 2002, during a previous rare period of rapprochement.

The North's then-leader Kim Jong-il sent dozens of state singers, dancers and musicians to Seoul to perform at a political event when South Korean President Kim Dae-iung was in office.

The North's delegates at Monday's meeting included Hyon Song-wol, leader of Pyongyang's all-female Moranbong music band, raising expectations the band would perform in the South. Monday's joint statement however did not mention it. 

The South's delegates to Monday's talks included senior officials from the state-run Korean Symphony Orchestra, raising the prospect of groups from both sides of the border performing together.

The two nations also agreed on Monday to hold talks at Panmunjom on Wednesday on logistics and details for the visit by the North's athletes.

The Koreas are set to hold talks with the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday over the number of the North's athletes.

South Korea has proposed a joint march for the opening ceremony and a unified women's ice hockey team, reports quoted a minister as saying last week.


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