SEOUL – North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un met members of the Samjiyon orchestra after they returned from South Korea, where the orchestra had performed during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and congratulated them on their success, North Korea’s official news agency KCNA reported on Tuesday.
Kim Jong-un had a photo session with the members of the 140-member group when they returned to Pyongyang on Monday and praised their “high artistic ability” and their ability to prepare performances in a very short time.
“Kim Jong-un warmly congratulated the orchestra upon its successes by conveying the warm mind of the people in the North, who are hoping for the successful Winter Olympics and national reconciliation,” the KCNA article said.
According to KCNA, the leader received a report from the orchestra about the atmosphere during their performances and said he was pleased that “the fellow countrymen in the South, including President Moon Jae-in and his wife expressed satisfaction over the performances.”
Concerts in South Korea by the Samjiyon orchestra, led by Hyon Song-wol, who is also part of the famous North Korean all-female band Moranbong, were a part of agreements signed in January by the two Koreas about the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics, which started on Friday in PyeongChang county in South Korea.
The group held a concert on Feb. 8 in the South Korean city of Gangneung, an Olympic venue, and another on Feb. 11 in the National Theater of South Korea, attended by Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, and Kim Yong-nam, leader of the North’s national assembly.
Both North Korean representatives were seated next to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who held a meeting with them on Saturday and was also invited to attend a summit in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-un.
Samjiyon’s performances were the first by North Korean artists in the South since 2002, and come against a backdrop of easing tensions during the Winter Olympics.