Korean art troupe to leave for N. Korea

K-Pop diplomacy South Korean artists fly to North for rare concerts

They have won over buttoned-up investors at a banking conference with their jingles about teenage love, but the K-pop girl band Red Velvet is about to face what may be its toughest audience yet: North Korea.

The South Koreans will perform on Sunday in a theater that holds about 1,500 people, and artists from North and South will perform together in a 10,000-capacity stadium on Tuesday.

In the past, the drills have infuriated North Korea but correspondents say that this time Pyongyang is keeping relatively quiet.

"The North's audience applauded to our performance much louder than we expected and even sang along to our songs.it was a big relief", band member Yeri told reporters.

"There is a strong political motive to boost the mood ahead of the summit", Prof Kang said.

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The South Korean musicians taking part include singers and bands from a variety of genres, ranging from traditional folk songs to trendier K-pop, while some 20 taekwondo performers have also travelled. One of the band members, Eric Mun, told reporters that they looked at the singers "with eyes like shooting lasers".

The U.S. and its allies want North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, but North Korea has refused to downgrade its military arsenal. USA president George W. Bush had labelled them a member of the "axis of evil" in 2002.

The ongoing rapprochement was triggered by the South's Winter Olympics, to which the North's leader Kim Jong-un sent athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy.

During a surprise visit to Beijing last week, China said Kim indicated he is willing to talk with Trump about giving up nuclear weapons.

The cultural events are aimed at maintaining a reconciliatory atmosphere ahead of a historic summit between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27th.

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K-pop - characterised by its manufactured melodies and slick approach to marketing - has penetrated into North Korea over the past 10 years.

A South Korean artistic group including K-pop singers flew to Pyongyang on Saturday for two performances in the North Korean capital.

The South's 120-member art troupe are to stage a joint show with North Korean artists for a two-hour run at the 12,000-seat Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium on Tuesday.

Although almost 300,000 South Korean troops and 24,000 American troops will take part, the drill will be a month shorter than usual and will not involve nuclear submarines.

Singer and actor Joy of the girl group Red Velvet will not participate in a concert in Pyongyang due to a previously scheduled shoot for the MBC drama "The Great Seducer", according to local news outlet My Daily on Friday.

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In recent months there has been a thawing of tensions between North Korea and South Korea.

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