A North Korean art troupe returned home on Monday, ending a high-profile performance tour of South Korea to celebrate the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
A convoy of buses carrying the members of the Samjiyon Orchestra crossed back to North Korea via a land route on the western side of the peninsula, which has been divided since 1945.
The orchestra, consisting of a total of 140 singers, musicians and others, performed in the eastern city of Gangneung, the venue of such Olympic sports as ice hockey and skating, on Thursday and Seoul on Sunday.
Although the ensemble, consisting mainly of young women, is regarded as a propaganda tool of the North Korean regime, its performances were not politically charged in an apparent bid to underline harmony between the two Koreas.
In Thursday's performance, the group sang a song with alternate lyrics asserting a claim over a pair of islands at the center of a territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan.
The singers, including Hyon Song Wol, leader of the all-female Moranbong Band, called the islets "also part of our fatherland," using the Korean name "Dokdo" in the popular North Korean song. The South Korean-held islands are called Takeshima in Japanese.
Many members of the orchestra arrived at the eastern port city of Donghae on Tuesday aboard the North Korean ferry Mangyongbong-92, as an exemption to sanctions imposed in retaliation for the North's torpedoing of a South Korean Navy vessel in 2010. The ferry headed home on Saturday.
After Kim Jong Un offered an olive branch in his New Year speech, the art troupe, athletes and others were dispatched as part of Pyongyang's efforts to improve inter-Korea ties amid tightening sanctions aimed at stifling its nuclear and missile programs.
Sunday's performance was attended by South Korean President Moon Jae In and Kim Jong Un's younger sister and special envoy Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal leader.
During their rare talks on Saturday, Kim Yo Jong invited the progressive president, who favors inter-Korea dialogue as a means to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, to Pyongyang.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said Monday that Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae Sung will meet with Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine on Tuesday. Another meeting with the Chinese ambassador is also expected on Wednesday.
Chun is likely to explain the content of Saturday's meeting between Moon and the North Korean delegation in an attempt to obtain understanding of the country's stance on the issue from its key neighbors.
Meanwhile, North Korea's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in its Monday edition that the delegation has returned to Pyongyang, adding that the trip "served as a significant occasion in improving relations between the North and the South and setting up a peace environment on the Korean Peninsula."