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S. Korean maestro to meet with N. Koreans in China over orchestra performance

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- A renowned South Korean conductor plans to meet with North Korean music officials this weekend in China to discuss a joint orchestra performance in Pyongyang, an official said Friday.

South Korea allowed Chung Myung-whun, who leads the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, to hold consultations with North Koreans in Beijing on Sunday, according to the Unification Ministry official.

All South Koreans are required by law to get government approval prior to meeting with North Koreans in a third country or visiting the North.

Chung said Wednesday that there will be good news regarding the performance, raising prospects of the South Korean musical group's first concert in the North Korean capital in a decade.

The two Koreas' philharmonic orchestras held a joint concert in Seoul in August 2000, two months after a landmark summit between their leaders. In 2002, the two Koreas also held a joint concert in Pyongyang.

In September, Chung, who also doubles as a UNICEF "goodwill ambassador," traveled to the North, where he agreed with North Korean musicians to push for regular performances of a joint symphony orchestra of the two countries.

The joint concert, if held, could help ease lingering tensions between the two Koreas over the North's two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.

The North recently urged South Korea to offer an apology over its response to the December death of former leader Kim Jong-il as a key condition for resuming stalled bilateral talks.

South Korea expressed sympathy to the people of North Korea over Kim's death, but did not send an official mourning delegation to Pyongyang. Seoul only approved a condolence trip by private delegations.

The South has expressed regret over what it sees is the North's latest propaganda campaign.

South Korea has proposed holding two separate meetings with North Korea to discuss reunions of family members and joint pest control near ancient tombs in the isolated country. The North has yet to reply the offers.

 

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