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.
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However, not all observers have reacted to the trip with enthusiasm. Human rights groups have criticized the decision to engage with the Stalinesque country, in which hundreds of thousands of people are held in labor camps.
In a New York Times op-ed, two members of a committee on human rights, Chuck Downs and Richard V. Allensaid they feared the visit would "hand [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il a propaganda coup." The New York Post says "The Philharmonic's visit was always ill-advised – a starry-eyed attempt at 'sunshine' diplomacy by State Department idealists."
And according to The Times of London:
There is, however, very little chance, argue veteran Pyongyang watchers, that "sing-song diplomacy" will succeed where the talks on Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament have, so far, stalled. Although the talks produced an apparent breakthrough last year, the North has now missed a deadline where it was to provide a full account of its nuclear programmes.
"It's a good thing that the Philharmonic is going. But the North Korean regime is still the North Korean regime," Rice said. "I don't think we should get carried away with what listening to Dvorak is going to do in North Korea."
There can be little argument about the power of music to free minds. But the power of information is even greater. Breaking Pyongyang's near-absolute authority over information is key to empowering North Koreans to understand the truth about their country, and to seek freedom.