UPDATE : 2019.12.13 FRI 09:50
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N. Korean art troupe begins performance in Beijing

A North Korean art troupe began its performance in China's capital city on Saturday, the first show in the neighboring country in three years and a demonstration of close ties between the two countries.

A delegation of senior officials and a 280-strong art troupe, led by Ri Su-yong, vice chairman of the ruling party's Central Committee, arrived in Beijing on Thursday for the show. North Korea announced the performance plan early last week.

Spectators believed to be Chinese and North Korean officials enter the hall at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing to watch a performance by a North Korean art troupe on Jan. 26, 2019. (Yonhap)

The performance comes after its leader Kim Jong-un returned from his fourth visit to China and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, an apparent show of stronger ties between the two allies ahead of a planned second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump next month.

The troupe is reportedly composed of members from the North Korean army's State Merited Chorus and Samjiyon Band.

Early Saturday, Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts tightened security around the area and installed facial recognition tools at the front gate, indicating that the show was about to start soon.

Hours later, an estimated 2,000 people passed through the gate to watch the performance. Each of them apparently carried a ticket that read "Performance by North Korean Art Troupe in China."

The North Korean artists are expected to perform again on Sunday and Monday. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, are widely predicted to show up at the last performance.

Saturday's performance is the first of its kind since the North's Moranbong Band called off a planned performance in Beijing at the last minute in 2015 after China reportedly took issue with aspects of the performance featuring the North's nuclear and missile development. (Yonhap)

Cho Kyung-hee  edt@koreapost.com

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