Orchestras may visit North, U.S.

Joong Ang Daily
Jin Se-keun

A U.S. orchestra may visit North Korea while Pyongyang sends its own orchestra to the United States, an official of a Hong Kong-based company said yesterday.

Bae Kyeong-hwan, vice president of Daepung Investment Group, told the JoongAng Ilbo that his company has been authorized by the North’s Culture Minister, Kang Neung-su, to schedule and plan the events.

“We contacted the New York Philharmonic orchestra first, but if its schedule does not permit, the Boston Philharmonic or the Philadelphia Philharmonic could be an option,” Bae said.

The New York Philharmonic earlier confirmed that it has been invited to visit North Korea, but has not yet made an official decision.

After a performance in Pyongyang, the U.S. orchestra may return via South Korea, crossing the inter-Korean border at Panmunjeom Village, Bae said.

The North’s National Symphony Orchestra will then return the visit by going to the United States for a performance, according to Bae.

He claimed that negotiations for these reciprocal visits have been worked out by Christopher Hill, Washington’s chief negotiator to the six-party talks, and his North Korean counterpart Kim Gye-gwan.  

North invites the New York Philharmonic
Joong Ang Daily
Brian Lee

It’s up to the New York Philharmonic orchestra to decide whether it will accept an invitation to perform in North Korea, a U.S. State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

“We’ll consider it,” Eric Latzky, the orchestra’s director of public relations, told Agence France Press. “We received an invitation to perform in Pyongyang through an independent representative on behalf of the ministry of culture of North Korea.”

Latzky said the request, which had just been received, was “unusual” and that the orchestra would consult with Washington before making any decision. Furthermore, Latzky said, any such visit would come as part of a tour in the region.

The Philharmonic is scheduled to play in China in February 2008.

When asked whether such a visit was feasible, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “I think it’d be fully up to them whether or not they accept such an invitation. As for the details of being able to go there and whether there’s any compensation, that sort of thing, those are probably technical details.”

Financial sanctions and restrictions regarding arms, missile and nuclear technology are in place under a United Nations resolution adopted last year in the aftermath of a nuclear test by the North, but there are no restrictions on travel to the North by ordinary U.S. citizens.

But despite the symbolic meaning the orchestra’s visit could have, McCormack said he suspected it would only play for Pyongyang’s elite. “Whether or not your average North Korean gets an invitation if the New York Philharmonic’s in Pyongyang, I have my doubts about that.”

North Korea interested in inviting New York Philharmonic
Korea Herald


North Korea has shown interest in inviting the New York Philharmonic to perform in its capital, Pyongyang, apparently as part of its efforts to improve ties with the United States, sources here said Sunday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

During a meeting of six-party nuclear disarmament talks in Beijing in July, U.S. envoy Christopher Hill met his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan, and proposed that the two countries start civilian exchanges as part of confidence-building measures, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kim responded positively, saying that his government has already thought about such exchanges and would be interested in inviting the New York Philharmonic, according to the sources.

Eric Latzky, spokesman for the New York-based philharmonic, told Yonhap News Agency that he was unaware of any invitation by the North but said discussions were under way with South Korea for a performance tour there.


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