Band formed by Kim Jong Un cancels Beijing concerts

BEIJING -- An all-female band formed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un cancelled its concerts in Beijing and abruptly left the Chinese capital on Saturday for unknown reasons, possibly further cooling relations between the traditional allies.

See Full Article

The Moranbong Band had been scheduled to hold three concerts in Beijing beginning Saturday night in what was viewed as a visit to cultivate ties between the countries.

However, band members arrived at Beijing's airport in North Korean Embassy vehicles on Saturday afternoon, and departed aboard a North Korean Air Koryo jet shortly after 4 p.m. following a lengthy delay, Chinese news website sina.com reported.

A staff member at the National Theater, where the band was to give the invitation-only performances, said the concerts had been cancelled, but did not give a reason. An accompanying North Korean musical troupe, the State Merited Chorus, also cancelled its performances.

Although North Korea is well known for its unpredictability, the sudden cancellation of the concerts could hurt relations between Beijing and Pyongyang. Ties between the sides have been noticeably cooler since Kim assumed power in 2011.

While China continues to provide crucial economic support and diplomatic cover for Kim's impoverished communist regime, the North Korean leader appears to have used defiance of Beijing to shore up perceptions of his own power and independence of action.

Relations appeared to be on the mend following a well-publicized visit to Pyongyang by high-ranking Chinese official Liu Yunshan in October. However, Kim's unwillingness to visit China and his government's refusal to restart denuclearization talks have frustrated the Chinese leadership.

The North's decision to cancel the concerts might have been related to stories circulated by the South Korean media about a rumoured past relationship between the married Kim and a female member of the band, which also made rounds on Chinese social media, said Yang Moo-jin, a North Korea expert at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

North Korea has built a cult of personality around the Kim family, which has ruled for three generations, and sees any outside criticism or mockery of its leader as an attack on its sovereignty.

"There are few things the North takes more seriously than an attack on the dignity of its supreme leadership, and it might have decided to bring the female members of the band back quickly to cut off such reports," Yang said.

Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Avicii's family says DJ-producer's funeral will be private

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The family of late Swedish DJ-producer Avicii says his funeral will be private. In a statement released Tuesday, Avicii's family says the funeral will include "people who were closest" to the performer. Source
  • Mulroney takes pride in his kids' 'joyful' wedding performances

    Entertainment CTV News
    Ben Mulroney says he and his wife Jessica resorted to months and months of “bribery and mild threatening” in the hopes of good behaviour from their three children who played a big role in Saturday’s wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Source
  • Robert Indiana, known for LOVE series, dies at 89

    Entertainment CBC News
    Pop artist Robert Indiana, best known for his 1960s "LOVE" series, has died at his island home off the coast of Maine. He was 89. Indiana died on Saturday from respiratory failure at his Victorian home in a converted Odd Fellows hall, a fraternal order lodge, where he had lived for years on Vinalhaven Island, said James Brannan, his attorney. Source
  • Actress who accused Weinstein needs money to finish film

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Actress Paz de la Huerta has started a crowdfunding campaign to finish a movie she began making years before she publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. The movie "Valley of Tears" is her take on the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Red Shoes," about a little girl with a pair of enchanted shoes. Source
  • Reese Witherspoon launching audiobook project

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Reese Witherspoon is launching another literary project. The Oscar-winning actress is collaborating with the audio producer-distributor Audible on audio editions of works highlighted in her Hello Sunshine book club. Witherspoon has recommended Curtis Sittenfeld's story collection "You Think It, I'll Say It" and other works by women. Source
  • Ariana Grande offers message of hope on attack anniversary

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON - Ariana Grande has shared a message of hope with fans on the anniversary of the bombing at Manchester Arena that killed 22 people. The pop star tells survivors and the families of victims that she is "thinking of you all today and every day. Source
  • 'American Idol' crowns its latest winner

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - Iowa native Maddie Poppe has won "American Idol." The singer-songwriter bested Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Gabby Barrett in Monday night's two-hour finale on ABC. Poppe and Hutchinson announced on the program that they're dating, surprising judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Source
  • Can art recreate a migrant's border trauma? This simulation might come close

    Entertainment CBC News
    Migrants caught fleeing to the U.S. border have a term in Spanish for the holding cells where detainees often wait days to be processed. They call them las hieleras, or the freezers, and it quickly becomes apparent why. Source
  • Despite Spotify change, R. Kelly's streams still intact

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Streaming numbers for R. Kelly have remained intact a week after Spotify announced it had removed the R&B singer's music from its playlists, citing its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Source
  • Kensington Palace shares family portrait, other royal wedding photos

    Entertainment CBC News
    Kensington Palace has released three official wedding photographs taken of Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle shortly after their wedding. Alexi Lubomirski's images include a family portrait of the couple with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and their spouses, as well as Markle's mother and the children who served as bridesmaids and page boys. Source