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Moon Jae-in attends mass games in Pyongyang

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for a big step toward unification by ending mutual hostilities and opening of a new future together in his address at the “mass games” performance in Pyongyang late Wednesday alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“Chairman Kim Jong-un and I will hold hands of 80 million people of North Korea and South Korea, and build a new country. Let’s move toward a new future together,” Moon said after watching the performance on the second day of his trip to Pyongyang.

“Our people are strong. Our people love peace. Our people should live together,” he said.

(Joint Press Corps)
(Joint Press Corps)
(Joint Press Corps)
(Joint Press Corps)
(Joint Press Corps)
(Joint Press Corps)

Before Moon‘s speech, the North’s leader expressed gratitude for Moon’s “tireless effort” for progress in inter-Korean relations.

Attending the mass games was the final event of the second day of Moon’s three-day visit to Pyongyang for his third summit with Kim. Earlier in the day, the two leaders signed the Pyongyang Declaration, which includes agreements on reducing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and reaffirmation of the goal of denuclearization.

As Moon and first lady Kim Jung-sook, as well as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared at the stadium in Pyongyang at around 9 p.m., an estimated 150,000 spectators erupted in cheers and applause. 

Moon and Kim received bouquets of flowers from North Korean children before they sat down to watch the hourlong performance titled the “Glorious Country,” which was modified for the South Korean guests. “Glorious Country” was staged on Sept. 9 to mark the country’s 70th founding anniversary.

Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister and the first vice department director of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, was seen pulling out a chair for Moon and Kim.

Known as an upgraded version of the “Arirang” mass games, last held in 2013, the show features tens of thousands of dancers staging a spectacular display of acrobatics, gymnastics, dances and flip-card mosaic animations.

“There could be content that welcomes our president (in the performance) and the title could be changed,” said Yoon Young-chan, the senior secretary to President Moon for public relations, during a press briefing in Seoul.

The event is largely regarded as a North Korean propaganda exercise, as the show focuses idolizing North Korean leaders and the socialist system. It has also raised controversy over the participation of young children who undergo intensive training. 

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was criticized for attending the propaganda performance in 2007, while in Pyongyang for a summit meeting with the then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Apparently in consideration of such concerns, Yoon said that the North has made efforts to “reflect our stance.”

(Joint Press Corps)
(Joint Press Corps)

Earlier in the evening, Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju made an unexpected visit to the seafood restaurant where Moon and his delegation were having dinner and joined Moon and his wife at the table. The Taedong River Seafood Restaurant is a new establishment that opened on July 30 under Kim’s initiative.

By Ock Hyun-ju & Joint Press Corps (
Korea Herald daum