SEOUL: British singer-songwriter Joss Stone performed an informal gig in the capital of nuclear-armed North Korea as part of her ambitious project to perform in every country on earth.
Stone, who has performed in more than 175 countries since embarking on the Total World Tour five years ago, was pictured singing in a bar in Pyongyang in front of a small group of tourists and guides on Wednesday night.
The 31-year-old artist, who has recently sung in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq, announced the trip on Instagram on Tuesday before boarding a plane to the North.
“It’s a fine day to go to North Korea,” she said in a video message taken at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
“We’ll be getting on a plane very soon to go to Pyongyang...? A place in North Korea, anyway. It’s gonna be fun,” she added.
Stone said she was practicing a traditional Korean folk song ‘Arirang’ — listed as Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage in both the North and South — for her audience in Pyongyang.
The visit was arranged by Simon Cockerell, who runs Koryo Tours, which specialises in trips to the isolated country.
Cockerell described the performance as an “unofficial gig” and posted photos of Stone singing for around 40 tourists and guides at a bar he identified as the Yanggakdo cinema complex.
“Let’s do it again with a full band and thousands of local fans not too far in the future!!” he wrote on his Instagram with a picture of Stone departing from the North Korean capital.
It is rare for North Korea to allow foreign musicians to perform for ordinary citizens, though last year a handful of South Korean pop artists were invited to Pyongyang amid a rapid rapprochement on the Korean peninsula.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019