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North Korean art troupe returns home after performances in the South Updated: 2018-02-13 06:57:40 KST


With a smile and a wave, the North Korean arts troupe made its way back home to the North.
The 137-member group crossed the inter-Korean border at western checkpoint in Paju, six days after it first arrived.

During that time, the troupe, known as the Samjiyon Orchestra, performed twice, once in the Olympic sub-host city of Gangneung, and once in Seoul.
The group sang a mixture of South and North Korean songs, as well as western pop and classical music.
The performance in the capital was attended by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean officials, and the head of the troupe, Hyon Song-wol, made a surprise guest performance, along with South Korean pop-star Seo-hyun.
Both nights passed without incident and were generally well received.

The troupe had arrived in South Korea's east coast by ferry, and it was expected to return via the same route.
But on arrival North Korean officials said they needed more fuel to go back.
There were concerns in Seoul at how this would affect international sanctions, but after two days of unsuccessful negotiations with South Korean officials, the North withdrew its request, and decided to send the boat back with just the crew, while the art troupe returned via the land route.

The art troupe's return did not go ahead without controversy, however.
A North Korean defector, Kim Ryon-hui , turned up at border checkpoint which is heavily restricted to civilians, claiming she wanted to bid farewell to the group.
Kim, who defected in 2011 and was integrated into South Korean society, has requested to be sent back to North Korea. The South Korean government has rejected such request for security and legal reasons.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang News.

Reporter : kwon@arirang.com
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