Why We Were Taken In

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Why We Were Taken In

We Koreans have been had in a most embarrassing way by an unbelievable artistic con game.

A bogus musical group, passing itself off as a famous symphonic orchestra, pulled the wool over the eyes not only of audiences but also of musical specialists here. The incident is the product of a combination of Koreans'' incurable taste for "famous brands" and a lack of expert knowledge.

A performing arts agency, N Art-Com, recently exposed in investigations by prosecutors, promoted the so-called Vienna Mozart Festical Orchestra.

Shocking though it may seem, the group managed to pass the screening process at our country''s most highly respected Seoul Arts Center and toured four other Korean cities, performing with local artists.

We cannot shrug this off as merely a one-shot sting, because under our current system and with the values that dominate in our society, this is just the sort of thing that can recur all too easily.

In impresario circles, it is an open "secret" that when the most famous orchestras from abroad come to perform in Korea they do not usually bring their best musicians with them, knowing that Korean audiences tend to pick the concerts they will attend not by the content of the performance but also by the name of the orchestra.

Also, Korean musicians, seeking to enhance their resumes, create a tremendous demand for opportunities to perform with big-name orchestras. In many cases, they will even pay handsomely for such an opportunity. Without some fundamental change in these underlying causes, it may be impossible to uproot the musical confidence game completely.

Still, there are some precautions that can be taken.

If, during the planning for this group''s Korea tour, anyone had bothered to check even the name of the group, the fact that it was not the same as that of the renowned Vienna Mozart Orchestra would have been recognized and its credentials could have been checked further.

The process of screening performers for our performing arts centers obviously needs to be much more thorough. One way to improve that process is to make certain that all groups coming here to perform have the required permit, issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and that the promoting agency''s previous record and full credentials be submitted for review as well.

by Kim Wang-ky

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