Sudden departure of Moranbong Band raises questions about state of China-N. Korea relations

Dec 14, 2015, 08:40 am

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By Hong Soon-do, Beijing correspondent, AsiaToday - The China-North Korea relations, which was expected to improve with a Beijing concert by a North Korean band formed by the North's leader Kim Jong-eun, is likely to be strained again as the Moranbong Band abruptly headed back to home just hours before the concert on Saturday. As a result, it seems difficult to see Kim Jong-un's China visit scheduled in the first half of next year.  

Members of the Moranbong Band of North Korea arrive at Beijing International Airport before departing from Beijing, China, on December 12. They abruptly cancelled a Beijing concert and headed home./ Source from Xinhua News Agency

According to the source in Beijing on Sunday, the China-North Korea relations seemed improved before the sudden departure of the Moranbong Band. The visit of Liu Yunshan, one of Xi Jinping's most senior officials, to North Korea to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party on October 10 and the recent meeting between recently appointed head of the Chinese Communist Party's international department Song Tao and North Korea's Ambassador to China Ji Jae-ryong in Beijing were some of the apparent signs of warming in relations between the two countries. Such atmosphere got into full swing when the Moranbong Band's Beijing concert had been confirmed on December 9. There were even rumors that the band would extend their concerts from 3 to 5 days.

However, as the Moranbong Band abruptly headed home hours before the first concert began, such amicable atmosphere came to an end. While no official reason has been given, some speculated the absence of top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, was probably behind the decision. Others said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might have canceled the performances because of carefree attitude of the band members including the band's leader Hyon Song-wol. China's state-run news agencies said that the concert could not be staged as scheduled due to communication issues at the working level.

The abrupt change in plans was certainly a negative development for relations between China and North Korea. Of course, it seems hard for both sides to discuss issues with nice faces for some period of time.

#Moranbong Band 
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