Gangneung: A 137-strong North Korean orchestra kicked off its first performance in South Korea on Thursday, serenading hundreds of South Koreans with familiar tunes while dozens of protesters blasted their own music outside, to the beat of drums.
The North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra performs in Gangneung, South Korea, on Thursday
"We came because it's a historic moment and perhaps the only opportunity for exchanges between North and South Korea," said South Korean Choi Kyung-in, 54, standing beside her daughter.
The band is Pyongyang's main art troupe and has previously been seen performing pieces from American animation movies such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and ‘The Lion King’. The performance is the first by North Koreans in the South since 2000, when another orchestra crossed the border for a joint concert to mark Korea's Liberation Day on August 15.
More than 150,000 South Koreans entered a lottery for tickets to the two performances the North Korean troupe will hold in South Korea. A random selection saw 780 winners receive two tickets each, the government said in a statement.
A total of 812 people attended Thursday's show, among them 252 special invitees picked separately by the government. About five minutes away from the concert hall, 80 protesters staged a demonstration in sub-zero temperatures, blasting out songs opposing the Pyeongchang Olympics and beating on drums.