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140-member NK orchestra to perform in S. Korea

Jan. 15, 2018 - 20:29 By Jung Min-kyung
North Korea will send a 140-member orchestra to South Korea for the PyeongChang Olympics, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday.
“North Korea will dispatch an art troupe formed of 140 members of the Samjiyon Orchestra,” said a joint press statement released by the ministry.

North Korea's delegation members sit during an inter-Korean talks to discuss Pyongyang's participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics at the truce village of Panmunjeom on Monday. South Korea(Yonhap)

The announcement came as a result of a working-level meeting held Monday to hammer out the details of North Korea’s plan to send an art troupe to perform at the Winter Games next month. The meeting came after Seoul’s offer Friday to hold formal talks on the PyeongChang Olympics.

The orchestra will perform in Seoul and Gangneung, Gangwon Province, which is near the Olympics host city of PyeongChang. Specific venues and performance times have yet to be announced.

A Unification Ministry official added that the North had requested an overland travel route for the performers. They are likely to cross the border through Panmunjeom, according to the official.

South Korea will also guarantee the safety and convenience of the performers during their stay in the South.

The two Koreas also discussed technical issues regarding the time, place and staging of the North Korean art troupe’s performance at the PyeongChang Olympics, said the ministry.

Seoul vowed to closely cooperate and said details would be discussed through the communication channel in Panmunjeom.

North Korea’s four-member delegation was headed by Kwon Hyok-bong, former head of the North’s Unhasu Orchestra and current director of the performing arts bureau at the Culture Ministry. Its delegation also included Hyon Song-wol, the leader of the all-female Moranbong Band.

The Moranbong Band was formed in July 2012, handpicked by the North’s leader Kim Jong-un.

The South Korean delegation was led by Lee Woo-sung, head of the culture and arts policy office at the Culture Ministry, while other members included Korean Symphony Orchestra CEO Lee Won-choul, its artistic director Chong Chi-yong and Han Jong-wook, who heads an inter-Korean dialogue division at the Unification Ministry’s Office of Inter-Korean Dialogue.

At the start of the talks, Kwon expressed hopes for the meeting to run smoothly, saying that “a great symphony will be enthusiastically received.”

The two Koreas will hold another working-level meeting to discuss a broader agenda regarding the Olympics on Wednesday and a separate meeting in Switzerland on Saturday, which has been arranged by the International Olympic Committee.

The inter-Korean talks on North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games came after its leader Kim Jong-un’s rare overture toward the South during his New Year’s address, in which he expressed hopes to talk about sending a delegation to the sporting event.

By Jung Min-kyung (