SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The head of a massively popular North Korean girl band crossed the closely fortified border into South Korea on Sunday to test preparations for uncommon performances by an artwork troupe she additionally leads throughout subsequent month’s Winter Olympics.
Appearing stay on South Korean tv, Hyon Song Wol did not converse when she walked previous a crowd of reporters, onlookers and a barrage of digital camera flashes earlier than boarding an specific practice at Seoul’s railway station for the japanese metropolis of Gangneung, the place her artwork troupe is to carry out throughout the Pyeongchang Olympics.
She is the chief of Pyongyang’s all-female Moranbong Band, which was hand-picked by chief Kim Jong Un. She’s been the topic of intense South Korean media consideration since she attended final week’s talks on the border that struck an settlement on the 140-memer Samjiyon artwork troupe’s two performances — one in Seoul and the opposite in Gangneung, the place some of the video games will happen. After the talks, North Korea mentioned Hyon would additionally lead the Samjiyon artwork troupe, whose performances could be the primary by a North Korean group in South Korea since 2002.
With no official media entry given to Hyon, TV stations broadcast stay footage of her bus shifting on Seoul’s roads earlier than arriving on the railway station, the place lots of of cops had been mobilized to keep order. Photos confirmed a smiling Hyon shaking heads with a South Korean official upon arrival on the border. Later Sunday, carrying a darkish winter coat and fur scarf and with half her hair tied to the again, she regarded extra critical with an expressionless face.
Hyon’s arrival got here hours after the International Olympic Committee allowed 22 North Korean athletes to participate within the Olympics in distinctive entries given to the North. Among the 22 are 12 ladies who will be part of South Korea’s feminine hockey team within the Koreas’ first-ever unified Olympic team. The different sports activities occasions the North Koreans will compete in are determine skating, brief observe pace skating, Alpine snowboarding and cross-country snowboarding.
The 22 North Korean athletes will march along with South Korean gamers underneath a single “unification flag” depicting their peninsula throughout the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. “Such an settlement would have appeared inconceivable just a few weeks in the past,” IOC chief Thomas Bach mentioned in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The present temper of reconciliation between the Koreas flared after Kim abruptly expressed his willingness to enhance ties and ship a delegation to the Olympics throughout his annual New Year’s deal with. Outside critics dismissed Kim’s overture as a tactic to use improved ties with Seoul to weaken U.S.-led worldwide sanctions over North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile applications.
Hyon, who can also be an alternate member of the ruling get together’s Central Committee, is travelling with six different North Koreans. Her delegation had been anticipated in South Korea on Saturday, however North Korea canceled that plan on Friday evening earlier than it proposed a two-day journey beginning Sunday. It wasn’t clear why the go to was rescheduled.
Hyon’s advance team is to examine a venue for her artwork troupe’s efficiency in Gangnenug later Sunday. The team is anticipated to keep in a single day at Gangneung earlier than returning to Seoul to test one other venue within the capital on Monday, in accordance to Yonhap information company.
The Samjiyon artwork troupe, which includes orchestra members, singers and dancers, is an element of North Korea’s Olympic delegation that additionally consists of athletes, officers, journalists and a taekwondo demonstration team.
North Korea on Sunday supplied to ship one other advance team throughout the border on Thursday to take a look at lodging services, a press heart and the venue for the opening and shutting ceremonies, in accordance to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. South Korea is to ship its personal advance team to North Korea on Tuesday to overview logistics for a joint cultural occasion on the North’s Diamond Mountain and their non-Olympic skiers’ joint practices on the North’s Masik ski resort, the ministry mentioned.
Hyon was a popular singer earlier than she was appointed to lead the Moranbong Band, which serves because the “tender” public face of the Kim authorities. Its members in brief skirts and excessive heels or trendy navy uniforms sing and dance odes to Kim. There is theory that some of the Moranbong members might also seem within the Samjiyon artwork troupe, which observers say was seemingly swiftly shaped forward of Olympics-related talks with South Korea.
Under a cope with South Korea, the Samjiyon group is to play people songs and traditional masterpieces which are well-known to each Koreas and slot in with the theme of unification. An try by the group to carry out any propaganda piece would set off protests from conservatives in South Korea. The Moranbong Band canceled its deliberate 2015 efficiency in Beijing on the final minutes after Beijing wished to exchange a missile launch scene from the background of the stage, in accordance to South Korea media.