Korean art troupe performs in Pyongyang with NK leader in attendance

A combined image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump

A combined image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un clapped his hands and said he was "deeply moved" as he, along with his wife and hundreds of other citizens, watched a rare performance by South Korean pop stars visiting Pyongyang. Kim also took pictures with the troupe after the concert concluded.

Red Velvet, a five-woman pop group that has found enormous success in recent years, was one of the big names to headline the show.

Kim's appearance comes a week after he shook up the Asian diplomatic landscape with an unexpected trip to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing-his first overseas trip since taking power in 2011. The exercises had been delayed and shortened this year in order not to overshadow February's Olympic detente.

According to BBC, the North Korean president "showed much interest during the show and asked questions about the songs and lyrics".

The show's host Seohyeon of Girls' Generation, who performed with the North Korean art troupe in February in Seoul, welcomed the North Koreans to the show. The North Korean leader clapped and waved as South Korean bands took stage in a rare concert and was "deeply moved".

Separately, the South Korean taekwondo team performed at the Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall as North Korean officials and residents watched.

While spring drills customarily result in soaring tensions on the peninsula, recent Pyongyang state media messaging has hinted to the North Korean public that there could be an upcoming warming in North Korean-US relations.

The South Korean girl group Red Velvet and singers Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-hee were among those who took to the stage in Sunday's concert at the 2,500-seat East Pyongyang Grand Theater.

While defectors and those who work with them are unclear of the actual legalities surrounding possession of South Korean cultural content, one defector told Asia Times she knew of a case when possession of such content led to death. Experts say it's unlikely, and the flurry of meetings, events and diplomatic activity is merely a facade for more strategic goals, including the dividing of allies and the easing of biting sanctions amid the US -led "maximum pressure" campaign of President Donald Trump.

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Kim also talked about Red Velvet.

Kim met with Red Velvet and other South Korean performers after the show, shaking hands with them and expressing his "deep thanks", according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The two Koreas have set a date for their first summit in more than a decade on April 27, and Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump could meet in May.

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

Red Velvet's band member Joy gave the event a miss and only four of the members - Irene, Seulgi, Wendy and Yeri - performed in North Korea.

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

No U.S. aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines were expected to join the drills, Yonhap said. "South or North (Korea) it is the same taekwondo, same roots, but the way it has grown is different". No sitting US president has ever met personally with a North Korean leader since the conclusion of the Korean War.

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

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