K-Town

Seohyun of Girls' Generation Teamed Up With North Korean Band At Pro-Unification Concert

Seohyun of South Korean girl group Girls' Generation performs during the press conference of her first solo album "Don't Say No" on Jan. 16, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.
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Seohyun of South Korean girl group Girls' Generation performs during the press conference of her first solo album "Don't Say No" on Jan. 16, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.  

Popular K-pop singer Seohyun of Girls' Generation made history on Sunday (Feb. 11), when the 26-year-old performed alongside North Korea’s Samjiyon Orchestra.

Seohyun, born Seo Ju-Hyun, performed two songs with the North Korean art troupe during a performance at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul. She appeared on stage to sing "Let's Meet Again" and "Our Wish," two songs that represent a desire for the unification of the two Korean countries.

The event came amid North Korea joining the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife were in attendance, as was Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jung Un.

Debuting as a member of Girls’ Generation in 2007 and shooting to stardom with their hit “Gee” in 2009, Seohyun is one of the most recognized K-pop singers in the world. Outside of her activities as a member of the group, she has pursued a career as a soloist and an actress, and is widely recognize in the K-pop scene as a talented vocalist. She left the Girls’ agency SM Entertainment last year, but has stated her desire to remain a member of the act moving forward.

Lee Moon-won, a culture critic based in Seoul, told The Korea Herald that Seohyun’s inclusion in the event was likely due to bigger labels, like former label SM Entertainment, shying away from politically-tinged performances such as this one. Seohyun serves as a popular singer that has suitable popularity and authority, but doesn’t risking a major label’s political integrity by appearing at the event. North Korea’s appearance at the PyeongChang Olympics as well as performances by its artists is controversial in South Korea, where many are concerned that North Korea has taken the attention of the Games away from the southern host country.

Seohyun’s talent and popularity is just one reason she was likely chosen for the performance: also has expressed her interest in politics in the past, citing former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon as her inspiration; Seohyun met Ban in 2012, when he was serving as a Goodwill Ambassador.

The performance included Seohyun singing while holding the hand of one member of the North Korean troupe, and ended with a hug between the pair.