Trump-Kim summit: Top North Korean singer Hyon Song Wol spotted in Singapore

Hyon Song Wol (left), leader of North Korea's popular Moranbong band, arrives at the Gangneung Arts Center in South Korea on Jan 21, 2018.
Hyon Song Wol (left), leader of North Korea's popular Moranbong band, arrives at the Gangneung Arts Center in South Korea on Jan 21, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

Among the 100-strong entourage Mr Kim Jong Un has brought to Singapore for his summit with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday (June 12) is a pretty face who has played an important role in North Korea's rapprochement with South Korea. And it's not his sister.

Ms Hyon Song Wol, the leader of the communist country's Samjiyon Orchestra who was at the forefront of recent inter-Korea cultural exchanges, has been spotted in Singapore after the arrival of Mr Kim's posse from Beijing on Sunday (June 10).

 

Dressed in black and wearing sunglasses, Ms Hyon was spotted at the lobby of the St Regis Hotel where Mr Kim is staying.

It is not clear what role she will play in Singapore, but Ms Hyon has spearheaded Mr Kim's charm offensive since the beginning of the year.

Mr Kim, who oversaw numerous missile tests by his military, has engaged in a flurry of diplomacy this year, holding two meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae In and two with China's Xi Jinping, leading to Tuesday's first-ever summit between a North Korean leader and a sitting US President.

It began in January, when Mr Kim offered in his New Year message to send a delegation to take part in the Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang the following month.

Three weeks later, a North Korean delegation led by Ms Hyon Song Wol, a popular female singer who fronts the popular Moranbong girlband, travelled by train to Seoul to discuss the issue.

 
 
 
 
 

Ms Hyon smiled and waved to a crowd at the train station before a group of anti-North protestors staged a noisy rally.

Up until then, civilian contact is strictly banned between the two Koreas, which have been divided since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

In February, Ms Hyon was part of the North Korean delegation led by Mr Kim's sister, Ms Kim Yo Jong, to the Winter Olympics.

The singer headlined a 100-minute concert watched by Mr Moon and Ms Kim and 1,000 South Koreans, performing at one point a unification-themed song.

She was tapped to front another North-South concert in April, this time performing with K-pop singers from the South in a rare concert in front of Mr Kim himself as well as 12,000 spectators in Pyongyang.

The musicians from North Korea and South Korea held hands, sang and cried together at the concert, which ended with an emotional standing ovation by the crowd.

"I think the performance was a success," said Ms Hyon after the show.

"The South Korean singers did really well without any mistake even though they had only half a day to practise."