Millennium Post

South Korean violinist, North Korean singer perform together in China

Shanghai: A South Korean violinist and a North Korean singer on Sunday held a rare joint performance they hope would help bring the divided Koreas closer together via music especially at a time of emerging tensions amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy.

Violinist Won Hyung Joon and his North Korean soprano partner, Kim Song Mi, performed together at Shanghai Oriental Art Center with a Chinese orchestra.

Their concert came three days after South Korea said North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea in the second such weapons test in five days.

For both, it was their first concert with a musician from the other side of the Korean border, the world's most heavily fortified.

They met several times last year in Beijing and agreed on a joint performance to help promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.

As a duet, Kim sang Antonin Dvorak's "Songs My Mother Taught Me" while Won played the violin.

Kim later sang "Arirang," a Korean traditional folk tune beloved in both countries, while the Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra played the music.

"When I met her (Kim) for the first time, I felt like I was reuniting with an old friend who's been on the same wavelength with me," Won said before Sunday's concert.

"This performance shouldn't be the end ... and what's important now is what other dreams we can have together."

In a pre-concert written interview, Kim also said she "heartily wishes" that her songs would help bring back reconciliation mood.

"I'm nervous and anxious about what inspiration the audience would have and what reaction North and South Korean compatriots would show to our joint performance," she said.

North and South Korean musicians performing together are extremely rare as their governments don't even allow their citizens to exchange phone calls, letter and emails without special approvals.

Last year saw an unusual wave of cross-border exchanges after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly entered talks on the fate of his advancing nuclear arsenal.

A group of North Korean dancers and singers performed in South Korea during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, before South Korean K-pop stars flew to Pyongyang and sang in the presence of Kim and his young wife Ri Sol Ju.

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