News ID: 208142
Published: 0325 GMT January 15, 2018

North Korean orchestra to perform in South during Olympics

North Korean orchestra to perform in South during Olympics
AFP

North Korea agreed during rare talks on Monday to send a 140-strong orchestra to perform during the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, Seoul said.

Officials from the two Koreas, technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, met on the North side of the border truce village of Panmunjom to discuss North Korea sending performers – for the first time in 18 years – to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, Reuters reported.

The two sides agreed that the orchestra would stage performances in the capital, Seoul, and at Gangneung, near Pyeongchang, the South's Unification Ministry said in a statement.

The North asked that the art troupe cross the border by foot via Panmunjom, located in the demilitarized zone.

The North will dispatch a preliminary inspection team "at the earliest possible time" to hammer out logistics such as the performance venue, stage conditions and the installation of equipment, according to a joint press release.

The decision to host the orchestra "contributes to improving relations and recovering the cultural homogeneity" between the two Koreas, the South's ministry said.

The two Koreas separately agreed to hold working talks on Wednesday on the North's athletes attending the Olympics, the ministry said. They will also hold talks hosted by the International Olympics Committee on Saturday.

"The IOC will have no say on the art team. That is something that has to be discussed between the two sides," a North Korean diplomat in Geneva said.

Tension has been high as the North staged a flurry of nuclear and missile tests since last year and its leader Kim Jong-un traded threats of war and personal attacks with US President Donald Trump.

But fears of war have eased after the first round of intra-Korean talks in more than two years last week, which Trump has welcomed.

Choi Moon-soon, governor for the Games' host province, said the two countries' orchestras may hold a joint concert.

The North's orchestra, called the Samjiyon Band, is the country's main art troupe along with the Moranbong Band, women who regularly stage musical performances and plays calling for loyalty to the leader.

North Korea is planning to send a large delegation to the Olympics in addition to the athletes and orchestra. South Korea is also seeking to form a united women's ice hockey team with the North, according to media reports.

 

   
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