North Korean pop band cancels Beijing concert, leaves for home

Sat Dec 12, 2015 6:29am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - An all-female North Korean pop band formed by leader Kim Jong Un abruptly canceled a Beijing concert on Saturday and headed back home to Pyongyang, Chinese media and the concert venue said.

The Moranbong Band was visiting China along with North Korea's State Merited Chorus and was due to perform later on Saturday at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts.

The band is Kim's pet project as he tries to put his own personal stamp on the North Korean arts, and the short haircuts of the group's young women members are trend-setting in the capital Pyongyang.

A member of staff who answered the telephone at the venue said the show had been canceled due to "some unknown reason".

Chinese magazine Caijing reported on its microblog that the women had left Beijing while online Chinese news portal Sohu said they had flown back to Pyongyang, the stage they were due to perform on having been dismantled.

Pictures obtained by Reuters showed the band leaving their hotel in Beijing around noon on Saturday, their baggage with them.

It was due to be their first overseas appearance. Chinese state media said they were due to give three concerts in Beijing.

There was no immediate word from North Korea on their sudden departure.

The band's China visit had been seen as an indication of improving relations between China and its isolated neighbor.   Continued...

Members of the Moranbong Band from North Korea carry their instruments as they leave a hotel in central Beijing, China, December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer