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History Shows Peril and Promise of Trump-Kim Summit

03 April 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiled, clapped and said he was "deeply moved" by a rare performance from South Korean K-pop stars in Pyongyang, state media reported Monday.

During the K-pop performance at the packed 1500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theatre, North Korean concertgoers - most of the men in dark suits but some women in colourful traditional "hanbok" dresses - waved their hands from their seats when the South Korean stars joined together to sing a popular Korean song, Our Wish Is Unification.

A high-ranking North Korean official apologized to South Korean reporters for restricting access to a Pyongyang concert staged by major K-Pop artists. Kim highly praised the popular girl band and later even shook hands with the band members.

The 120-member group - 11 musical acts as well as dancers and technicians - flew to Pyongyang on Saturday to perform concerts yesterday as well as tomorrow.

The girl band Red Velvet, part of the South's K-pop phenomenon that has drawn wide attention in Asia and elsewhere, was considered the headliner of the tour.

"I hope that something similar will happen during this concert held in response (to the North's Seoul concert)", Do Jong-hwan, Seoul's culture chief leading the delegation, told reporters in Pyongyang.

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Both the artistes and the taekwondo team will perform further shows in the North on Tuesday.

Cho Yong-pil, who previously performed in the North in front of a crowd of 7,000, returned to a Pyongyang stage with The Great Birth, the band that he has been with for about 40 years.

The singers were the first popular performers from the South to appear in North Korea for 13 years.

Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking to South Korean musicians after the concert in Pyongyang.

The visit by the South's entertainers, seen as part of a cultural charm offensive by Seoul, comes as a diplomatic thaw gathers pace on the peninsula ahead of a landmark inter-Korean summit later this month. "The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace", Kim was quoted as saying by China's official news agency last week. Kim Jong Un will reportedly meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in May, as well.

The K-pop singers will be performing one more time before they leave the North Korean capital.

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As well as this, longstanding nicknames for the leader - such as "Fatty Fatty", "Fatty the third", and "Fatty Kim the Third" - were also blocked on microblogging site Weibo.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet on April 27, the first such meeting between heads of state from the two nations since 2007.

Kim also talked about Red Velvet.

About 11,500 U.S. troops will deploy alongside some 300,000 South Korean soldiers during field drills, newswire Yonhap reported.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC said he's glad John Bolton will serve as Trump's national security adviser going into talks with North Korea because of his "very healthy skepticism".

During his meeting with Trump, Abe is also expected to urge the USA leader to exempt Tokyo from Washington's stiff new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, according to a Japanese government source. She had performed with the North's Samjiyon Orchestra in Seoul in February.

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History Shows Peril and Promise of Trump-Kim Summit