N Korea concert could have more idol singers: S Korean music director

N Korea concert could have more idol singers: S Korean music director
The show culminated with all the musicians joining together to sing the North's "See You Again" and the common Korean children's song "Our Wish is Reunification", after which the audience gave a standing ovation that lasted for more than 10 minutes.
PHOTO: AFP

Sunday's performance in Pyongyang by a South Korean art troupe was deemed largely satisfactory by the authorities of both Koreas, but music director Yun Sang said that including more K-pop stars could have improved the show.

Yun Sang, musical director of a South Korean art troupe, speaks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday in Pyongyang. / Yonhap

"I wish more idol singers would've come. There were some concerns from the North, over an overflow of things that may look alien (to North Koreans). As you know, in the case of Psy," said Yun in an interview with South Korean reporters at Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang.

A government official told the media recently that Psy was not part of the troupe because the North thought that the "Gangnam Style" star would "stand out too much."

"Red Velvet did an excellent job of filling that void, to introduce the youngest generation (of South Korean music)," Yun said.

There had been initial concerns that the reclusive state -- where music trends are the opposite of radical or racy -- would not respond well to a K-pop performance.

Past performances by South Korean boy bands and girl groups like Sechs Kies, Fin.K.L and Shinhwa had been poorly received in Pyongyang.

"I've heard so much (about the audience) from the singers that already performed in Pyongyang, so I told the younger singers not to be fazed about the silence that they may encounter for the first time," Yun said.

"When the audience suddenly fell silent near the beginning, I thought to myself, 'Oh ... North Korea'. But then when Seohyeon sang 'Blue Willow,' everybody's hands went up. I was in tears as I thought 'They like it so much, we should've prepared more.'"

Other unexpected successes came from the South Korean singing legend Cho Yong-pil and Seohyeon of Girls' Generation, who both had been suffering from a severe cold.

"(Cho) pulled off such an explosive performance onstage that one would never suspect (he was sick) ... and I think (Seohyeon) would've surprised even herself," Yun said.

He expressed regrets that his group was not able to perform more North Korean songs, saying that he wished that the South Korean artists would perform more of their songs in the future. He added that the next time, the North's Samjiyon Orchestra -- led by Yun's North Korean counterpart Hyon Song-wol -- would play a bigger part in their next joint performance.

"If there's another chance for the South and North to sing together, I think we could make full use of the Samjiyon Orchestra. In that sense, it would be a huge shame if there wasn't another one (joint performance)," he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who made a surprise attendance at Sunday's concert, expressed wishes for another joint concert between the Koreas in Seoul in autumn.

Musicians from South and North Korea jointly performed at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium in Pyongyang on 3:30 p.m., South Korean time. The South Korean troupe will leave for Seoul later in the day.

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