North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, clapped and waved Sunday as he attended a rare concert of South Korean singers and performers in Pyongyang.
After the two-hour plus concert, the North Korean leader and his wife shook hands with the pop stars, that included K-pop girl band Red Velvet,and took pictures with them, according to video and press pool reports.
The concert marked the first time in over a decade that South Korean musicians have traveled to North Korea, as relations between the two countries have thawed ahead of a groundbreaking summit of the leaders of the two countries planned for the end of April.
This April 1, 2018 picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 2, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and his wife Ri Sol-Ju posing with South Korean musicians after a rare concert.
The young North Korean leader “was deeply moved to see our people sincerely acclaiming the performance, deepening the understanding of the popular art of the south side,” according to North Korea state news agency KCNA.
Before her marriage to Kim, Ri Sol Ju was a singer in the North Korean Unhasu Orchestra, South Korea’s Unification Ministry has confirmed, andvideos of her performancecan be found online.
A South Korean lawmaker told CNN in 2012 that “Ri was partially educated in China and visited South Korea in 2005 for the Asian Athletic Championships “as a member of North Korea’s cheering squad.”
KCNA reported that Kim had enjoyed Sunday’s concert — something that surprised some observers in Seoul given that it has been a punishable crime for North Koreans to consumeSouth Korea popular culture including music, movies and soap operas.
In previous years K-pop, which has a global following, has been used by Seoul in a very different capacity.
In early 2016, following a North Korean nuclear test, theSouth blasted its northern neighborwith giant speakers playing propaganda and music across the heavily militarized border.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un speaks to South Korean musicians after the concert, in this photo released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).