South Korea pop stars to perform in rare North Korea concert

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has attended a concert entitled "Spring Comes".

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.

The emcee of yesterday's concert was a popular member of K-pop band Girls' Generation, Seohyun, who had performed with the visiting North Korean singers during their Seoul concert in February.

Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, and other top officials, including nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, were also at the event.

This is the first time since November 2007 that South Korean artists have performed in the North.

The event comes ahead of the April 27 summit, when South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to meet with Kim at a border village. President Moon attended a concert by North Korean singers in Seoul to mark the opening of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

It is the first artistic group to visit in more than a decade as the two countries on the divided peninsula prepare for a summit on April 27.

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South Korean Taekwondo athletes gave performances at the Taekwon-Do Hall on Sunday and are scheduled to hold a joint performance with North Korean athletes at the Pyongyang Grand Theatre on Monday. The South Korean government confirmed that the Gangnam Style singer had been considered for the roster, but didn't make the final cut.

No date has been set for the US-North Korean summit although it is expected before the end of May.

This year's drills feature fewer strategic weapons such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Seoul's military has said.

Such deployments during past drills has frequently drawn an angry response from Pyongyang. The performance was delayed by two hours for "the convenience of more audience", Yonhap News Agency reported. The girl group is to sing two of its recent hits: "Red Flavor" and "Bad Boy". Joy was absent due to scheduling conflicts with her TV show, her agency said.

Despite the North's isolation and strict curbs on unauthorised foreign culture, enforced with prison terms, K-pop and Seoul's TV shows have become increasingly popular there thanks to flash drives smuggled across the border with China.

They have won over buttoned-up investors at a banking conference with their jingles about teenage love, but the K-pop girl band Red Velvet is about to face what may be its toughest audience yet: North Korea. She made a surprise appearance alongside a North Korean classical music ensemble during their performance in Seoul last month.

The stiffened crowd refused to respond to the athletes who asked them to clap their hands to Fire - an intense electro-dance score peppered with rapid-fire rap delivered in both Korean and English.

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