“A 140-member North Korean pop orchestra will stage rare performances in South Korea during the Winter Olympics next month, the two Koreas agreed on Monday,” writes Choe Sang-Hun in Monday’s (1/15) New York Times. “The two sides discussed details of the North’s participation in the Games as part of their efforts to improve ties. The orchestra, known as the Samjiyon Band, one of the North’s top arts troupes, will … perform twice in the South: once in Seoul … and once in Gangneung, a city on the east coast where some of the Olympic competitions will be held. The troupe’s performances will feature 80 orchestra musicians and 60 members who sing and dance.… Like all art troupes in the North, Samjiyon remains a tool of propaganda for [Kim Jong-un’s] government, which uses music, movies, paintings and novels to disseminate the state’s ideology.… The North last sent such a group in 2002, when 30 North Korean singers and dancers performed in Seoul to celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945…. During the talks on Monday, the North promised to play traditional Korean folk songs that ‘fit the mood for unification and are well known on both sides,’ as well as classical music.”

Posted January 16, 2018