Musical diplomacy

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Musical diplomacy

The date for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert in Pyongyang has been confirmed. The prestigious American orchestra will give a concert there on Feb. 26.
An American orchestra going to Pyongyang is exceptional, but even more extraordinary are the conditions under which the orchestra will travel, that the United States’ national anthem will be played and that the concert will be broadcast across the entire country.
For the past 60 years, relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been about confrontation rather than dialogue. Since the Korean War, North Korea has regarded the U.S. as its worst enemy.
Slogans such as “Skin the American imperialists alive” illustrate the situation well enough.
But in recent months, North Korea has tried its best to normalize ties with the United States. The nation doubts it can survive under the military and financial sanctions that the world’s superpower has imposed.
But after their meeting in Berlin in January, relations between the two countries have entered a new stage. It is clear that North Korea’s position has changed significantly.
North Korea has agreed to disable its nuclear facilities, asked Washington to hold a meeting about financial issues and has received an orientation session on international finance. Kim Myong-gil, the second top ambassador in the North Korean mission to the United Nations, attended the session and mentioned the case of Vietnam, saying that he hoped that his country would follow changes taking place around the world.
And it was the North Koreans that invited the U.S. orchestra, marking a significant development in its relations with the rest of the world.
We believe that these moves are positive changes. We hope that they will serve as more than one-off events and will become permanent policies.
Although hosting the concert won’t be enough to overcome decades of mistrust between the North and the U.S., we expect that the concert will serve as a breakthrough toward the normalization of ties between the two nations. After all, diplomacy through concerts helped the U.S. normalize ties with communist countries, such as the former Soviet Union and China.
The invitation to the New York-based orchestra suggests that Pyongyang is preparing to report its nuclear weapons fully and completely.
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