DMZ Concert 2017: Thousands Enjoy K-Pop Extravaganza at Korean Border
Thousands of people have enjoyed a pop concert close to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
The South Korean “peace concert” takes place every year near the zone which splits the Korean peninsula.
This year, it comes as North Korea is threatening to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam, while President Donald Trump has threatened them with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
There are two events – the first and more popular one is a Korean pop (or K-pop) extravaganza on August 12, followed by a classical music concert on August 13.
Though they are marketed as “DMZ Concerts”, they are obviously not held within the demilitarized zone, but at a tourist spot called Nuri Peace Park in the South Korean city of Paju, north of Seoul.
The free and public event is organized by South Korean broadcaster MBC, the Ministry of Unification – which promotes and prepares for potential future reunification of the Koreas – and local authorities. The concert will be broadcast on August 15 on national TV.
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This year’s K-pop concert was taglined “Again, Peace!” and boasted top acts like Girls Generation and BTOB.
The concert is in part a celebration of National Liberation Day, a public holiday in both Koreas and a potent symbol of their shared history.
The date the show will be broadcast on TV – August 15 – marks the end of Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula in 1945. The Korean War began a few years after that and ended in an armistice, so the two countries are still technically at war with each other.
The current series of concerts began in 2011, but back in 2000, South Korea tried to convince North Korea to hold a joint concert in Pyongyang as a cultural exchange. The plan fell through reportedly over a financial disagreement.
The organizers position the concerts as a way of encouraging the resolution of the Korean conflict through cultural exchange.
Korean acts are already hugely popular across Asia, and have an increasing following worldwide.
Despite their heavily controlled lives, many North Koreans are reportedly huge fans of South Korea’s music and other cultural imports such as soap operas, which are often smuggled in.
North Korean defectors have previously said that South Korean entertainment helped them learn the realities of life outside their country.