New York Philharmonic's 'sing song diplomacy' in North Korea
Its performance in Pyongyang Tuesday has spurred intense debate over how to interact with the North.
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra has arrived in North Korea ahead of a controversial performance in Pyongyang, which is being compared by some to the "ping pong diplomacy" that preceded US President Richard Nixon's landmark trip to the People's Republic of China in 1972.Skip to next paragraph
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The trip comes as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tours the Far East urging regional leaders to pressure North Korea to fulfil its promise to reveal all its nuclear activities. She will not travel to North Korea.
The orchestra's trip has proved controversial. Some say it's an exercise in diplomacy; others say it will do little to change the behavior of a repressive regime, which has remained evasive about its development of nuclear weapons.
The trip has been slammed "a disgrace" by the New York Post. But North Korea has welcomed the orchestra as "a clashing cymbal of détente," cautioning that "we trust that your second violins are not disguised fifth column," according to The Times of London.
The 130-member orchestra is scheduled to arrive Monday and perform Tuesday night before an audience of high-ranking North Korean officials. Eighty journalists will accompany the musicians to a country that is almost always closed to the outside world.
The performance is scheduled to be broadcast live on North Korean state television. For North Koreans, watching an American orchestra perform in their own country will be unprecedented – and politically dissonant. State-controlled media have demonized the United States since the Korean War.
Reports from Pyongyang suggest that anti-American propaganda is being pulled from the streets in anticipation of the orchestra's rendition of George Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony, as well as both the North Korean and American national anthems.