The Korea Times

South and North perform together in Pyongyang

- By Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@ktimes.com

South Korean singers appeared on stage with North Korean performers, singing popular songs from the two Koreas at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang, Tuesday.

Titled “Spring Comes,” a South Korean troupe of performers presented a concert at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater, Sunday. The concert only featured South Korean musicians, but artists from the two Koreas performed together Tuesday.

South Korean artists rehearsed with the Samjiyon Orchestra from the North for over six hours Monday.

The Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium, the second venue, is much larger than the 1,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theater and houses approximat­ely 12,000 guests.

The concert was originally scheduled for 4 p.m. (Pyongyang time), but brought forward to 3 p.m. upon the South Korean troupe’s request.

South Korean singer Seohyun co-hosted the concert with Choi Hyo-seong from the North’s Korean Central Television. Two white-and-blue Korea Unificatio­n flags adorned the stage.

Half of the repertoire was similar to Sunday’s concert and the North Korean performers joined in to diversify it.

North Korean singers Song Yong and Kim Ok-ju, who were part of the North Korean troupe that performed in the South in February, joined South Koreans Jungin and Ali.

When Song Yong and Kim Ok-ju announced that the four would sing North Korean song “Face” together, a buzz of excitement ran through the audiences.

Seohyun once again sang “Blue Willow,” a famous North Korean song by Kim Kwang-sook.

Lee Sun-hee and Kim Ok-ju sang Lee’s hit song “Dear J” together. Kim Ok-ju performed the song during the North Korean performanc­e troupe’s Gangneung performanc­e commemorat­ing the 2018 PyeongChan­g Winter Games in February and Lee sang the song solo at Sunday’s Pyongyang concert. Then Lee sang “Beautiful Country” alone and the audiences clapped on the beats.

“I met Ok-ju for the first time and am deeply moved by her voice. I’ve been singing for 35 years and performing in Pyongyang 16 years ago was one of the most cherished memories of mine. This will be another precious memory for me,” Lee said during the concert.

Then the singers were joined by the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra, which accompanie­d “Baekdu and Halla Are My Motherland,” a North Korean song which was performed during its South Korean concert two months earlier.

The singers from the two Koreas wrapped up the joint performanc­e by singing “Let’s Meet Again” and “Our Wish” together.

The Samjiyon Orchestra played another North Korean song “Reunificat­ion is by the Korean Nation Itself,” arranged by the orchestra’s leader Hyon Song-wol, for the finale.

Ahead of Tuesday’s final concert, South Korea’s culture minister Do Jong-whan told the Joint Press Corps that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who attended Sunday’s concert of the South Korean troupe, proposed holding a North Korean troupe’s performanc­e in Seoul again in autumn.

“Kim said there should be another concert in the South since Spring Comes was successful. I suggested the title of Autumn Came almost simultaneo­usly with him,” the poet-turned-minister said.

Minister Do said Kim Jong-un especially liked the song “Man Is Ship, Woman Is Port” sung by rocker Yoon Do-hyun and asked music director Yoon Sang about the song’s arrangemen­t.

Music director Yoon said the North Korean audiences responded more enthusiast­ically when the South Korean singers performed North Koreans songs. “The atmosphere immediatel­y changed when we presented North Korean songs. It would’ve been nice if we prepared more songs from the North,” Yoon said. “I could feel the audiences letting their guard down when we sang North Korean songs Let’s Meet Again and Our Wish in the finale.”

The 190-member art and taekwondo troupe is scheduled to return to Seoul by plane Tuesday night.

Sunday’s concert will be televised in South Korea on April 5 through on public channels MBC, KBS and SBS.

 ?? Joint Press Corps-Yonhap ?? North Korean spectators cheer as South and North Korean artists jointly sing “Our Wish” at the end of a concert at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang, Tuesday.
Joint Press Corps-Yonhap North Korean spectators cheer as South and North Korean artists jointly sing “Our Wish” at the end of a concert at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang, Tuesday.
 ?? Joint Press Corps-Yonhap ?? South and North Korean performers sing “Our Wish” together at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang, Tuesday.
Joint Press Corps-Yonhap South and North Korean performers sing “Our Wish” together at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang, Tuesday.

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