Inter-Korea summit: First ladies to bond over shared love of music

South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook (right) chats with North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju during their visit at a university of music in Pyongyang on Sept 18, 2018.
South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook (right) chats with North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju during their visit at a university of music in Pyongyang on Sept 18, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE/PYEONGYANG PRESS CORPS
Kim Jung-sook (left), wife of South Korean President Moon Jae-in (second from right), greeting Ri Sol Ju, wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right).
Kim Jung-sook (left), wife of South Korean President Moon Jae-in (second from right), greeting Ri Sol Ju, wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right).PHOTO: REUTERS/PYEONGYANG PRESS CORPS
Kim Jung-sook (in white) walking to greet Ri Sol Ju on the red carpet at the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, on Sept 18, 2018.
Kim Jung-sook (in white) walking to greet Ri Sol Ju on the red carpet at the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, on Sept 18, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE/PYEONGYANG PRESS CORPS

SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The first ladies of the two Koreas are likely to carry out their own form of diplomacy, bonding over their shared interest in music, on the sidelines of the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Moon and his wife, Kim Jung-sook, were greeted by Mr Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju, at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on Tuesday (Sept 18) morning.

The two first ladies, who had displayed an exceptional rapport during their first meeting at the Moon-Kim summit in April in Panmunjom, are expected to cultivate their relationship further during this trip, which runs Tuesday through Thursday.

Ms Kim Jung-sook's official itinerary for Tuesday included visits to the Kim Won-gyun Conservatory, a prestigious music school in Pyongyang, and the nearby Okryu Children's Hospital, accompanied by Ms Ri.

The first ladies' trip to the music college will likely serve as a chance for the two to discuss their mutual love of music, given their music backgrounds.

Ms Kim Jung-sook majored in vocal performance at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and was part of the Seoul Metropolitan Chorus, while Ms Ri was a soloist with the North's famous Unhasu Orchestra before she married Mr Kim Jong Un.

On Wednesday, the South Korean first lady's itinerary includes a visit to the Mangyongdae School Children's Palace, a massive facility on the southwestern edge of Pyongyang where North Korean children take classes in ballet, musical instruments, singing and calligraphy. Its students often perform for foreign reporters and tourists.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and his wife, Lee Hee-ho, visited the school in 2000.

 

North Korea observers have noted since earlier this year that the country's media now refer Ms Ri as "revered first lady", instead of "comrade" as they customarily used to.

Ms Ri also accompanied her husband to Beijing in March when Mr Kim Jong Un made a surprise diplomatic debut at his summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

This is the first inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang in 11 years.