Kim Jong-un’s really moving out of his diplomatic comfort zone lately. He has agreed to meet with President Trump by May, and last week, the North Korean leader left his country for the first time since 2011 on a “mystery train” to China, where he reportedly pledged to denuclearize. In late April, he’ll meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in — the first meeting between leaders of the Koreas in a decade — and as a lead up, Kim was photographed in Pyongyang (alongside South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Do Jong-whan) while watching popular South Korean girl band Red Velvet perform on Sunday.
The New York Times reports that Kim enjoyed himself while clapping and smiling for the band known for “bubble-gum harmonies and sexy choreography.” He even reportedly posed with the band in a gesture of immense significance, given that North Korea generally resists cultural infiltration from anywhere outside its borders, especially where the South is concerned. Here are some more almost unbelievable details:
“Please tell President Moon how good this kind of exchange is. I know there has been attention to whether I will come and see Red Velvet,” Mr. Kim was quoted as telling South Korean officials. “I thank you for bringing this gift to Pyongyang citizens.”
The South Korean culture minister, Do Jong-hwan, told reporters in Pyongyang after the show that Mr. Kim “showed much interest during the show and asked questions about the songs and lyrics.”
Another interesting tidbit — it was only a few years ago in 2015 that South Korea used K-pop as a means to annoy North Korean soldiers. That is, South Korean soldiers would blast the tunes across the DMZ, and in response, North Korea would threaten an “all-out war” while pointing weapons at South Korean loudspeakers. Fast forward to today, and Kim Jong-un has merrily attended a Red Velvet concert. He must really want those sanctions to go away, but he reportedly drew the line at allowing Psy to perform “Gangnam Style” on Sunday as well. It seems that Kim’s newfound diplomatic ways only go so far.
(Via New York Times)