Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 1 News List

North Korean delegation heads home after concert

AP, GANGNEUNG, South Korea

South Koran President Moon Jae-in, second right, yesterday talks with Kim Yo-jong, second left, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as they watch a performance of the North’s Samjiyon Orchestra at the National Theater in Seoul. North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam, left, applauds the show.

Photo: AP / Yonhap

A North Korean delegation led by a political princess headed home last night after a whirlwind three days in South Korea, where she sat among world leaders at the Olympics and tossed a diplomatic offer to the South aimed at ending seven decades of hostility.

Kim Yo-jong and the other North Korean officials left for Pyongyang on the private jet of her brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a day after they delivered his hopes for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a lunch at Seoul’s presidential palace.

Their final appearance in South Korea was joining Moon at a Seoul concert of a visiting North Korean art troupe, led by the head of the immensely popular Moranbong band, whose young female members are hand-picked by Kim Jong-un.

The show featured a surprise appearance by Seohyun, of top South Korean K-pop girlband Girls Generation.

Accepting North Korea’s demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, South Korea treated the Mangyongbong-9 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon yesterday hosted the North Koreans for lunch before Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, hosted them for dinner ahead of the concert.

Kim Yo-jong, 30, is the first member of the North’s ruling family to visit the South since the end of the Korean War.

The delegation also included the country’s 90-year-old head of state, Kim Yong-nam.

In dispatching the highest level of government officials the North has ever sent to the South, Kim Jong-un revealed a sense of urgency to break out of deep diplomatic isolation in the face of toughening sanctions over his nuclear program, analysts say.

“Honestly, I didn’t know I would come here so suddenly. I thought things would be strange and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar,” Kim Yo-jong said while proposing a toast at last night’s dinner, according to Moon’s office. “Here’s to hoping that we could see the pleasant people [of the South] again in Pyeongchang and bring closer the future where we are one again.”

Though Moon has used the Olympics to resurrect meaningful communication with North Korea after an extended period of animosity and a diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear program, he did not immediately jump on the North Korean offer for a summit.

He said the Koreas should create an environment so that a summit could take place amd said there was a need of a quick resumption of dialogue between North Korea and the US.

Dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the concert venue, with waving banners condemning Moon and Kim Jong-un.

Additional reporting by AFP

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