International

Head of popular girl band leads N. Korean team to S. Korea

North Korean Hyon Song Wol, head of North Korea's art troupe, arrives at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Sunday. The head of a hugely popular girl band arrived in South Korea on Sunday across the rivals' heavily fortified border to check preparations for a Northern art troupe she also leads during next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea.   | Photo Credit: AP

The head of a hugely popular North Korean girl band crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea on Sunday to check preparations for an art troupe she also leads during next month’s Winter Olympics.

Appearing live on South Korean television, Hyon Song Wol didn’t speak when she walked past a crowd of reporters, onlookers and a barrage of camera flashes before boarding an express train at Seoul’s railway station for the eastern city of Gangneung, where her art troupe is to perform during the Pyeongchang Olympics.

She is also the leader of Pyongyang’s all-female Moranbong Band, which was hand-picked by leader Kim Jong Un. She’s been the subject of intense South Korean media attention since she attended last week’s talks at the border that struck an agreement on the art troupe’s two performances one in Seoul and the other in Gangneung, where some of the games will take place.

TV stations broadcast live footage of Hyon’s bus moving on Seoul’s roads before arriving at the railway station, where hundreds of police officers were mobilized to maintain order.

Photos showed a smiling Hyon shaking heads with a South Korean official upon arrival at the border. Later Sunday, wearing a fur scarf and with half her hair tied to the back, she looked more serious with an expressionless face.

The 22 North Korean athletes will also march together with South Korean players under a single “unification flag” depicting their peninsula during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. “Such an agreement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago,” IOC chief Thomas Bach said in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The current mood of reconciliation between the Koreas flared after Mr. Kim abruptly expressed his willingness to improve ties and send a delegation to the Olympics during his annual New Year’s address. Outside critics dismissed Mr. Kim’s overture as a tactic to use improved ties with Seoul to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 1:43:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/head-of-popular-girl-band-leads-n-korean-team-to-s-korea/article22484882.ece

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