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(LEAD) N. Korean art troupe expected to perform popular S. Korean songs

2018/02/08 18:43

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(ATTN: UPDATES throughout)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- Popular South Korean songs are said to be included in the set list for a North Korean art troupe's performance in South Korea on Thursday in celebration of the PyeongChang Winter Games.

The 140 member-strong Samjiyon Orchestra led by Hyon Song-wol, head of the all-female Moranbong Band, is scheduled to begin the concert at 8 p.m. in the Olympic sub-host city of Gangneung. The first art performance by North Koreans in the rival South in about 16 years will be staged on the eve of the opening of the games.

Sources said the performance list is likely to include South Korean songs as the group seeks to win over southern compatriots and highlight thawing relations between the two countries.

They are expected to play such all-time popular songs as Lee Sun-hee's "To J" and Shim Soo-bong's "Man is Ship, Woman is Port," as well as some well-known western music, the sources said.

Hyon Song-wol, head of the all-female Moranbong Band and the leader of the Samjiyon Orchestra, enters the Gangneung Arts Center in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, for a rehearsal on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap) Hyon Song-wol, head of the all-female Moranbong Band and the leader of the Samjiyon Orchestra, enters the Gangneung Arts Center in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, for a rehearsal on Feb. 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

The musicians and dancers arrived in the South on Tuesday by ferry. They practiced for almost 12 hours on Wednesday and held two more rounds of rehearsal on Thursday. They stay on the Mangyongbong-92 ferry, which is docked at the eastern port of Mukho.

The concert will take place at the 998-seat Saimdang Hall of the Gangneung Arts Center in the seaside city. The show is expected to last for one and a half hours but could be extended depending on audience response. The troupe is reportedly preparing an additional performance in case of an encore.

The South Korean government has invited members of families divided by the Korean War and the socially disadvantaged, while 560 seats are reserved for ordinary citizens who have been chosen by lot.

The project orchestra is comprised of musicians from six or seven famous North Korean music teams, including Samjiyon Band, Moranbong Band, Chongbong Band, the State Symphony Orchestra of the DPRK, Mansudae Art Troupe and the Korean People's Army State Merited Chorus.

Samjiyon Band is a classical music orchestra with 50-80 elite musicians known for the wide variety of their repertoire. In its concert at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre in January last year, it played songs from the soundtracks of popular American animated movies, such as "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and "The Lion King."

   Moranbong Band, which is often compared to K-pop girl bands for its idol-like looks and colorful performances, comprises 10 talented musicians and singers.

It will be a North Korean art troupe's first performance in the South since August 2002.

Their second and final performance will be held at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

A file photo from Uriminzokkiri shows North Korean singers from Moranbong Band and the Korean People's Army State Merited Chorus performing together in 2017. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap) A file photo from Uriminzokkiri shows North Korean singers from Moranbong Band and the Korean People's Army State Merited Chorus performing together in 2017. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr

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