Pyongyang Concert for Peace on Peninsula

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Pyongyang Concert for Peace on Peninsula

Some of North and South Korea's most prominent figures in classical music are to meet in early January to promote reconciliation and reunification of the divided peninsula through the "Millennium Pyongyang New Year Concert."

The historic concert is set to be held at the Moranbong Theater in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Jan. 10.

"The first inter-Korean classical concert was supposed to be held in April, but was abruptly canceled because of internal affairs in the North," said Bai Gi-hwan, president of Culture and Art Korea, the organizing agency.

After several working-level talks from March onwards with the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee of North Korea, Mr. Bai finally gained an agreement from the North on the joint concert this month.

The concert, which seeks to foster continued harmony and peace between the two Koreas, will be performed under the batons of two of the peninsula's best-known conductors, Nanse Gum from the South and Kim Il-jin from the North. They will conduct Pyongyang's National Symphony Orchestra.

"Apart from Nanse Gum, we have yet to confirm exactly which South Korean musicians will perform," said Mr. Bai. "We hope to settle on the details this week."

Nanse Gum has personally recommended the participation of the violinist Gang Dong-suk and the pianist Kim Hye-jung. The opera singer Choi Kwang-soo from North Korea is also strongly tipped to take part.

The South's Munwha Broadcasting Corporation has secured the rights to broadcast the "Millennium Pyongyang New Year Concert," via a peninsula-wide hookup.

"We are planning a simultaneous satellite broadcast that will link Seoul and Pyongyang, as long as the North gives its consent and there are no technical problems," said Song Won-gyeun, an assistant chief of station's Unification Broadcasting Research Center. "I can't wait to see musicians from both the Koreas together in the finale being televised worldwide via satellite."

The symbolic importance of the concert in the promotion of long-awaited peace between the two nations has been compared by some to President Kim being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The funds to pay the $1 million costs of the concert were raised from South Korean businessmen interested in investing in the North.

But organizers say profits are not the main motivation.

"We don't really expect to make any money from this concert," said Mr. Bai. "Our primary concern is to help the two Koreas become united."

A total of 100 delegates - consisting of performers, staff and tourists - will leave for North Korea on Jan. 7 for the concert. They are due to return on Jan. 11.

by Kim Jae-seon

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