BEIJING, North Korea’s all-female Moranbong Band has arrived in Beijing for a weeklong “friendship” tour in China, and the entourage included a band member who was rumored to be executed in 2013.
The two dozen young women had traveled from Pyongyang by train and had spent Wednesday night at the Chinese border city of Dandong before arriving in Beijing the next day, The New York Times reported.
The band is known for its orchestral performances that involve electronic synthesizers, electric guitars and violins. The young band members’ stage attire consists of short skirts and high heels that reflect the tastes of North Korea’s leaderKim Jong Un. The group has performed North Korean propaganda songs as well as Western pop music.
Chinese analysts told the Times the visit raises hopes of improved relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, but Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor of international relations at Renmin University, said, “Whether this will eventually lead to a visit to China by Kim Jong Un still remains to be seen.”
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the leader of the band, Hyon Song Wol, was in Beijing as the group headed for a luxury hotel.
In 2013, Hyon disappeared from public performances, triggering rumors of an execution, but she did reappear in 2014 when she paid tribute to Kim’s “heavenly trust and warm care in promoting the arts.”
When asked about the rumors, Hyon said, “Where do you come from?” as she boarded an elevator.
North Korea’s state-controlled DPRK Today reported the Moranbong Band had received worldwide attention, and the tour is meant to further develop cultural and artistic exchanges between China and North Korea.
But in China online commenters mocked the band, calling it an “imperial harem” for Kim.
One individual using the name Tianping Kuihua, said Kim at one moment “is sending his imperial harems and beauties to attract the attention of the Chinese people, and another moment he is announcing he has a hydrogen bomb.”