South Korea to send K-pop singers to Pyongyang in late March

SEOUL (Reuters) - A group of South Korea’s K-pop singers will visit Pyongyang from March 31, the South said on Tuesday, a reciprocal visit after North Korea sent performers to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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The South Koreans, numbering about 160, will visit North Korea until April 3, the South’s Ministry of Unification said in a statement, for the first such performances in more than a decade.

The group will include K-pop girl group Red Velvet and music industry veterans Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-hee, the ministry said, after talks on the performances between the neighbors’ delegations at the truce border village of Panmunjom.

Cho was the last South Korean singer to perform in the North, at a concert in Pyongyang in 2005.

“While we’re on the stage, I believe it will be difficult to portray personal feelings towards denuclearization,” said singer and record producer Yoon Sang, who led the South’s delegation at Tuesday’s talks.

“Our first task will be to instill the same awe in North Korean audiences as we do our South Korean ones and make sure nothing is awkward,” he told a media briefing.

Further negotiations, such as deciding the songs to be performed, would be done in written form, he added.

The visitors will hold two shows in Pyongyang, one at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, which was the backdrop to a landmark performance by the New York Philharmonic in 2008.

The other show will be held at the Ryukyung Chung Ju Yung Gymnasium, which was a joint project between North and South, named after Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung.

Officials will visit the North from March 22 to 24 to inspect the sites and ensure they can accommodate the singers, the ministry added.

The deal is the latest step in the detente that began after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said at the beginning of the year that he intended to improve ties.

North Korea has since agreed to hold summits with the South and the United States, apart from participating last month in the Olympics in South Korea.

Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez