Kim Jong Un: statesman and all-around normal guy? Not quite

Kim Jong Un: statesman and all-around normal guy? Not quite

Kim shook hands and took photos with the stars backstage, saying inter-Korean cultural events should be held more often and suggesting another event in the South Korean capital this autumn, pool reports said.

The performances, the first by South Korean artists in the North since 2005, are part of a recent rapid thawing in inter-Korean relations that began with Pyongyang sending athletes, cheerleaders and musicians to South Korea during the Winter Olympics in February.

Kim was seen clapping his hands during the event and even shaking hands with the performers.

A South Korean art troupe held a historic performance in Pyongyang on Sunday with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife in attendance.

What followed was a group performance from the 11 acts of Cho's song Dear Friend and the two songs that wrapped up the North Korean artists' Seoul concert in February. The trip to China was Kim's first known trip outside of North Korea since his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011.

Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju sat next to South Korean culture minister Do Jong-whan.

But tension has eased significantly since North Korea chose to send athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. Kim waved to the artists who had gathered on stage.

Members of Red Velvet, one of South Korea's top K-pop groups, sang their hits "Bad Boy" and "Red Flavor".

Kim Kong Un was "deeply moved" by Kpop group Red Velvet's performance in Pyongyang.

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In another sign of eased tensions, annual US-South Korean military exercises which got under way in the South yesterday will last for just one month compared to some two months normally. Kim Yo Jong was featured in media reports worldwide that spotlighted her relaxed demeanor on her tour of South Korea during the Pyeongchang Olympics while Ri, a fashionable former singer, was compared with Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife, renowned diva Peng Liyuan, during Kim's secret visit to Beijing.

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It was the first time a North Korean leader had attended a South Korean performance like this in the North. How North Koreans would react to Red Velvet was a focus of keen media attention in South Korea.

Also on Sunday, a joint military exercise involving USA and South Korean troops got under way in South Korea, the defence ministry in Seoul said.

Even leader Kim acknowledged that there had been "so much interest in whether I'd come to see Red Velvet or not".

Kim is to meet Moon at a border village on April 27 and US President Donald Trump in May in separate summit talks.

Although 300,000 South Korean soldiers and 11,500 USA troops are taking part in the drills, no U.S. aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines were expected to join the drills, after Pyongyang angrily denounced the maneuvers in the past.

The changing rhetoric also doesn't indicate that Kim is ready to suddenly give in to USA demands.

A South Korean tae kwon do demonstration team also held a performance in Pyongyang on Sunday.

About 11,500 United States troops will deploy alongside some 300,000 South Korean soldiers during field drills, newswire Yonhap reported.

This year's drills feature fewer strategic weapons such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Seoul's military has said. "South or North (Korea) it is the same taekwondo, same roots, but the way it has grown is different".

Seohyun performed "Greenish Willow Tree", a very popular North Korean song by late singer Kim Kwang-sook.

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