N. Korea Star's Visit Causes Protests, Media Frenzy in Seoul

Demonstrators burned Kim's photo
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 22, 2018 5:39 AM CST
Protesters Burn Kim's Photo as N. Korea Star Visits Seoul
North Korean Hyon Song Wol, the leader of Pyongyang's all-female Moranbong Band, leaves after she visited a gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Conservative South Korean activists burned a large photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as the head of the North's extremely popular girl band passed them Monday during a visit to Seoul amid a flurry of cooperation agreements between the rivals ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in the South. Hyon Song Wol, a North Korean celebrity who heads Kim's hand-picked Moranbong Band, began a two-day visit on Sunday, triggering a media frenzy in South Korea about Hyon, who is also in charge of the North's artistic performances during the Olympics, the AP reports. After her visits to potential venues for North Korean performances in an eastern city, Hyon arrived back Monday at the Seoul railway station, where she saw 150 to 200 activists protesting her visit and recent inter-Korean rapprochement deals.

Hyon saw the activists but did not react. After she left the area, the demonstrators used a blowtorch to burn Kim's photo, a North Korean flag, and a "unification flag" that athletes of the rival Koreas plan to carry together during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Police used fire extinguishers to put out the fire, but the activists later stamped on Kim's photo and the flags and burned them. Hyon's visit made her the subject of intense South Korean media attention, with photographers following her every move and TV stations reporting about not only her career and band but also her fox-fur muffler, boots, and facial expressions. Hyon's Moranbong Band will not visit South Korea during the games, but she will head a 140-member art troupe that is to perform twice.

(Read more North Korea stories.)

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