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

  • Netflix spokesperson says Prince discussed reality show

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Here's something else we lost with the death of Prince: A Netflix reality series centred on his Paisley Park home in Minnesota. A Netflix spokesperson told The Associated Press on Saturday that the online entertainment company had been in "discussions" with Prince about a series, but that the project did not "come to fruition" before his death in April. Source
  • Kirk Douglas turns 100

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Kirk Douglas knows how to make an entrance. With boxing gloves in every centrepiece and the theme from Rocky blaring over the speakers, Douglas, one of the golden age of Hollywood’s last living legends, walked confidently into the Sunset Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel Friday afternoon to celebrate his 100th birthday at an intimate gathering of friends and family. Source
  • Kim's Convenience fans brave the cold to meet stars of hit CBC show

    Entertainment CBC News
    Fans of Kim's Convenience braved the cold on Saturday to meet stars of the hit CBC show — a sitcom that's shining a spotlight on the Canadian immigrant experience and putting Asian actors front-and-centre. The meet-and-greet at 252 Queen Street East — home of the real-life Kim's Convenience store used for the show — gave fans a chance to meet stars Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Simu Liu and Jean Yoon. Source
  • 'I stand before you as a doormat'; Madonna condemns music industry's misogyny in Billboard award speech

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Madonna blasted the music industry for oppressing women and restricting their freedom during a blistering speech. The 58-year-old pop icon made the comments while accepting the Woman of the Year award at Billboard’s annual Women in Music event on Friday. Source
  • Khloe Kardashian's divorce from Lamar Odom to be finalized Dec. 17

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom will be officially divorced in one week. The reality star’s legal proceedings to split from her estranged husband will finalized on Dec. 17, according to court documents obtained by TMZ.com. Both Khloe and the former basketball star have waived spousal support, and will be equally sharing their joint checking account and their production company Khlomar. Source
  • 'Harry Potter' star Matthew Lewis, aka Neville Longbottom, getting married

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis is engaged. The 27-year-old British actor popped the question to girlfriend Angela Jones last month while on a romantic trip to Paris, France, according to TMZ.com. The couple met during the annual Celebration of Harry Potter event at Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Fla. Source
  • Inside Kirk Douglas's intimate 100th birthday celebration

    Entertainment CTV News
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Kirk Douglas knows how to make an entrance. With boxing gloves in every centerpiece and the theme from "Rocky" blaring over the speakers, Douglas, one of the golden age of Hollywood's last living legends, walked confidently into the Sunset Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel Friday afternoon to celebrate his 100th birthday at an intimate gathering of friends and family. Source
  • It's about time for a sci-fi film like Arrival

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    We’ll be doing a lot of soul-searching and head-scratching as awards-season progresses this month. And some of us will savour this brief, shining annual moment when movies are worth arguing about. This week, I submit my own favourite horse in the race — Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Source
  • Schwarzenegger: OK Trump is still 'Apprentice' producer

    Entertainment CTV News
    UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the new version of "Celebrity Apprentice," is unfazed that President-elect Donald Trump has retained a producer's stake in the show. Schwarzenegger said Friday that it's just business, comparable to his situation when he became California's governor and retained a screen credit and kept earning royalties for the "Terminator" movie. Source
  • Madonna's longevity takes centre stage with Billboard honour: 'I'm still standing'

    Entertainment CBC News
    The annual Billboard Women In Music event featured emotional and heartfelt speeches about the uphill battles women face in the music industry, including personal stories from top honouree Madonna and pop singer Kesha. The Material Girl, named woman of the year Friday, was passionate as she spoke onstage in New York about being raped at knifepoint, battling critics, and being called words like "whore," "witch" and "Satan" throughout her career. Source