North’s magicians set sights abroad

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North’s magicians set sights abroad

Pyongyang has asked an international organization of magicians to arrange a visit by North Korean illusionists to the United States amid rising tensions between the two countries over allegations that the regime is preparing for a fourth nuclear test, Radio Free Asia reported.

Dale Salwak, an official from the International Brotherhood of Magicians, told RFA on Wednesday that the regime had proposed that the organization lead visits next year by at least 20 North Korean magicians to the United States, where they would perform.

Salwak said he was planning to meet with North Korean officials in July in China to discuss the visit, RFA said.

He was apparently notified of Pyongyang’s request in April by a South Korean magician who traveled from Busan to Los Angeles, it added.

The proposal for the civilian-level interaction with Washington followed reports that the reclusive state appears to be preparing for a fourth underground nuclear weapons test, despite tough international sanctions imposed since its third test in February 2013.

Salwak told RFA that North Korean officials were fully aware of the diplomatic tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over talks of a nuclear test, but were still intent on having 20 North Korean magicians visit the United States in 2015 to perform in various U.S. cities.

According to RFA, North Korea reportedly asked the association to seek cooperation with the United Nations to issue the appropriate visas.

In 2012, Salwak attempted to arrange a visit by four North Korean magicians to the United States so they could attend a convention hosted by the organization, however, the U.S. government did not issue visas for them, he told RFA.

Salwak, a professional magician, was first invited to Pyongyang in 2009. He was the only American magician among approximately 600 others from Asia and Europe who performed at North Korea’s 26th Spring Friendship Art Festival.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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