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Pop, South Korea's Weapon of Mass Seduction, Heads to North Korea

21 March 2018

The South Korean and US militaries usually stage the two drills in March for about two months but the period of this year's field exercise was cut by half, mainly due to the Olympics, said the South Korean official, who asked not to be identified.

On Tuesday, the defence ministry said they were expected to resume on 1 April and "at a scale similar to that of the previous years".

The timing and size of the annual manoeuvrs are especially sensitive this year because of heightened tension over the North's accelerated work last year on a nuclear-armed missile potentially capable of reaching the United States - followed, unexpectedly, by prospects for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis.

Such plans, and the exchange of insults between Kim and Trump, had led to increased fears of confrontation on the Korean peninsula in recent months before the diplomatic contacts. Kim also offered to meet personally with President Donald Trump to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons on unspecified terms, and Trump quickly agreed to meet Kim by the end of May.

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Representatives of the South Korean Ministry of Defense stated that the drills are to be held at a scale "similar to those in previous years", which means that some 23,000 United States and around 300,000 South Korean soldiers will take part in the events, the Yonhap news agency reported.

"Foal Eagle" is a field exercise that involves about 11,500 USA troops and 290,000 South Korean troops. The other drill, known as Key Resolve, is a computer-simulated command post exercise and is scheduled to start around the middle of April for a usual two-week run, the South Korean official said.

The commentary in the North's official news agency KCNA late on Tuesday (March 20) did not directly mention the summits but noted the "dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation" with the South and "a sign of change" with the US. The last girl group to perform in North Korea was Baby V.O.X in 2003, and Red Velvet expressed, "We're honored and happy to attend such a meaningful event".

The announcement comes after Trump and Kim agreed to discuss denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula in the first face-to-face talks between a North Korean leader and a USA president.

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The visit was announced in a statement issued after inter-Korean talks at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

"The Foal Eagle exercises will be held for a month in April due to a delay caused by the Olympics and as each military has its own schedule", the spokesman told AFP.

Pyongyang had previously slammed the U.S.

South Korea last sent a pop singer to North Korea in 2005, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy.

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Pop, South Korea's Weapon of Mass Seduction, Heads to North Korea