Kim Jong Un attends concert by S.Korean artists

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Seohyun of Girls' Generation, who made a surprise collaboration with North Korean artists when the North's art troupe performed in Seoul last month, was expected to host the Pyongyang concerts.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Sunday attended the first concert in Pyongyang for over a decade by South Korean entertainers, including a K-pop girlband, the latest gesture of reconciliation before a rare inter-Korean summit.

"The whole objective of cultural exchange is to open the gates for better relations between the North and the South, which have been strained for a decade", said Professor Kang Dong Wan at Dong-a University and a leader of the Busan Hana Centre, an institute that helps North Korean defectors in the South Korean port city of Busan.

Kim shook hands and took photos with the stars backstage, saying inter-Korean cultural events should be held more often and suggesting another event in the South Korean capital this autumn, pool reports said.

This is the first time since November 2007 that South Korean artists have performed in the North.

Fifteen years later, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seeking to engage the region's major powers after advances in his nuclear programme prompted the United Nations to tighten sanctions and President Donald Trump to threaten war.

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"Spring literally has arrived and it also presents our wishes for spring to come over our relationship between the North and the South", Hwang Seong-un, a spokesman for South Korea's culture ministry said at a briefing in Seoul on March 27. The South Korean government confirmed that the Gangnam Style singer had been considered for the roster, but didn't make the final cut. No date has been set for the US-North Korean summit.

This year's drills feature fewer strategic weapons such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, Seoul's military has said.

The group shot to stardom in 2009, making Seohyun one of today's most recognisable K-pop singers. They were greeted on arrival at Pyongyang airport by Do's counterpart Pak Chun-nam as well as Hyon Song-wol, founder of the North's popular all-female Moranbong band, the South's Yonhap agency reported.

The 120-member group, including top girlband Red Velvet, flew from Seoul's Gimpo airport aboard a chartered civilian flight to Pyongyang via the rarely used direct air route between the two Koreas, as a rapprochement on the peninsula gathers pace.

In an interview with Billboard in 2013, the 68-year-old singer was dubbed a "K-pop legend".

The delegation mixes K-pop, rock and other genres. During the taekwondo event, a previously-enraptured audience turned stone-faced during a performance combining K-pop dance and Taekwondo routines to a hit song by the ultra-popular boyband BTS.