Who Is Red Velvet? North Korea Gets Taste of K-Pop Diplomacy

As part of a cultural exchange that started during the Olympics, South Korea will send a delegation of musicians to North Korea, the most famous of which is K-Pop sensation Red Velvet.

The women of Red Velvet, along with dozens of other musicians from South Korea, will travel Saturday to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. The musicians' trip comes amid a flurry of diplomatic overtures from reclusive leader Kim Jong Un.

On Thursday it was announced that Kim will meet South Korea's President Moon Jae-in on April 27. Earlier in the week, Kim took a secret train ride to China to meet with their President Xi Jinping and has set a future proposed date to meet with President Donald Trump.

The delegation will be the first group of South Korean musicians to perform in North Korea since 2005 when previous cultural exchanges ended.

Red Velvet was formed in 2014 by Korean company S.M. Entertainment and they released their first single "Happiness" in August of that year. They've released two studio albums, The Red in 2015 and Perfect Velvet in 2017. Their first album hit No. 1 on Korean pop charts and their second hit No. 2. A repackaging of the No. 1 on Billboard's World Album chart.

K-pop bands, by their nature, are extremely apolitical and non-controversial; members are even often forbidden from having public relationships. However, Red Velvet is much more scintillating than anything that exists in North Korea, which has its own version of K-pop with Moranbong.

Instead of boys and heartbreak, the North Korean girl group usually sticks to nationalist and patriotic themes, often praising Kim himself. Moranbong's conservative dance moves and militaristic inspired outfits are a far cry from what Red Velvet offers.

Whether the performances will be broadcast across state television remains to be seen as North Korea typically forbids the consumption of foreign media. Red Velvet's set list was determined in advance and they will play their hits "Bad Boy" and "Red Flavor."

S.M. Entertainment did not immediately respond to request for comment from Newsweek.

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Members of girl group Red Velvet perform on stage during the G-100 Dream Concert on November 4, 2017 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. The group performs this weekend in North Korea. Han Myung-Gu/GETTY