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N. Korea orchestra may hold U.S. performance

North Korea’s national symphony orchestra is expected to hold a performance in the U.S. next month, a U.S.-funded radio station reported Thursday.

Quoting multiple sources close to North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported Pyongyang and Washington are currently “discussing details” such as the exact day of the performance.

The two sides begun discussing the “exchange orchestra performances” during a high-level meeting in July when North Korea’s First Vice Minister Kim Kye-gwan discussed bilateral issues with Stephen Bosworth, the chief U.S. envoy on Korean affairs, in New York, the radio station said.

The purported event comes as North Korea has held bilateral talks with both the U.S. and South Korea in recent weeks over the possibility of resuming regional peace talks aimed at its denuclearization. It also comes nearly four years after the New York Philharmonic first offered a form of musical diplomacy to the reclusive communist state.

“The North Korean State Symphony Orchestra’s trip to the U.S. is fixed,” an unnamed source in China said, adding discussions were continuing via a private dialogue channel.

The New York Philharmonic, led by musical director Lorin Maazel, held its first performance in Pyongyang in February 2008 at the communist state’s invitation.

The possibility of a musical exchange between the two Koreas is also alising.

Upon his recent visit to North Korea, South Korean conductor Chung Myung-whun said he is working on holding a joint concert of musicians from both Koreas in Seoul or Pyongyang later this year.

A diplomatic source in New York also said that the U.S. was expecting the upcoming concert by the North Korea orchestra to “play an important role” in renewing ties between the two sides.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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