Just two years after K-pop was deployed as a soft weapon against his country, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he was "deeply moved" following a two-hour performance by South Korean artists, the North Korean state news agency KCNA reported Monday.
South Korea's 160-person delegation — which included the K-pop group Red Velvet and Cho Yong Pil, the last South Korean to have performed in the North, back in 2005 — were in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Sunday to further stoke a warming of relations between the two countries, which have a summit planned for April 27.
Kim is the first North Korean leader to publicly attend a performance by South Korean artists in Pyongyang — Cho Yong Pil's 2005 concert was broadcast on television in North Korea, but Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il reportedly did not attend — and was "particularly interested" in Red Velvet, a K-pop girl group, the publicly funded South Korean broadcaster KBS reported.
The performance was the latest public display in a diplomatic thaw between the two Koreas. In February, North Korea sent its own artistic olive branch to its southern neighbor, dispatching singers, dancers and an orchestra for a performance celebrating the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
South Korea's delegation arrived less than a week after Kim Jong Un was said to have left North Korea for the first time since assuming power in 2011, traveling to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping.
And then there is the matter of the White House accepting an "invitation to talk, based on [North Korea] following through with concrete actions on the promises that they've made," as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at a briefing on March 9. "This meeting [between President Trump and Kim Jong Un] won't take place without concrete actions that match the promises that have been made by North Korea," Sanders cautioned, citing the North's promises around denuclearization.