Cultural diplomacy

Morten Traavik, the man who brought us a North Korean accordion quintet covering a Norwegian synthpop track, now gives us a documentary about a Slovenian art-rock band performing versions of songs from The Sound of Music in North Korea. Read a review of the “documentary musical” Liberation Day in the Guardian. More info on Morten […]

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Understatement of the year: Joint concert “not quite a success”

by Philip Gowman 18 August 2015
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There’s a delightful and very detailed account of the grand Independence Day North-South musical collaboration in the Korea Joongang Daily. The headline reads “DMZ concert not quite a success, but not a failure”. Less politely put, the affair sounds like it was a bit of a fiasco: Only “13 musicians … turned up: one violin, […]

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British Council signs MOU with DPRK Cultural Committee

by Philip Gowman 17 July 2014
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As trailed at the launch of the current photographic exhibition at the British Council, a memorandum of understanding has now been signed between the Council and the DPRK’s Cultural Committee. Not quite the ministerial level MOU that is in place between the UK and the ROK, but still a significant step. British Council forges new […]

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LKL 2012 Quiz of the Year — the answers

by Philip Gowman 7 January 2013
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The answers to LKL’s 2012 Quiz of the Year. How many did you get? 1 The Watermelon Economy It was Lee Seung-han, the boss of Tesco in Korea, who accused Lee Myung-bak of running a watermelon economy: on the outside, lots of rhetoric about “green” growth, but actually red on the inside. “Not even communist […]

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Alexander Liebreich’s musical diplomacy in Pyongyang

by Philip Gowman 4 January 2013
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Great BBC feature on Alexander Liebreich and his musical diplomacy with the Munich Chamber Orchestra in Pyongyang. http://bbc.in/100eliE. A briefer feature can be found on iPlayer here. LKL interviewed him in Tongyeong in 2012 when we visited the Tongyeong International Music Festival, of which he is artistic director. And a one-hour long documentary about his […]

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DPRK unveils new fusion technology on Paris concert platform

by Philip Gowman 19 March 2012
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At least three things are of interest in relation to the 14 March Paris performance of the Unhasu (은하수) Orchestra from North Korea. First: that it happened at all; second: how it was reported back home; and third, what it was that the orchestra was playing. The funding First, then. How did it get to […]

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The Philharmonia Orchestra in Sorok-do

by Philip Gowman 8 September 2010
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Video of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra in tour to Korea in May 2010, including concert in Sorok-do. Ashkenazy with Cho Yong-pil, sponsored by Lady Rothermere. http://bit.ly/d8LyYB. Also reported in the Korea Times. # Keywords: Musicians: Cho Yong-pil Places: Goheung-gun Other tags: Cultural diplomacy | Leprosy

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Americans in Pyongyang

by Philip Gowman 28 February 2008
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With typically bad timing my travel arrangements didn’t work out. I caught the Star-Spangled Banner and the first movement of the New World Symphony in the car on the way to the airport, but missed the North Korean anthem which opened the broadcast, and of course all the encores — including the tearful Arirang (by […]

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Suzannah Clarke’s musical diplomacy

by Philip Gowman 4 November 2007
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A while ago I posted about Jason Carter’s trip to Pyongyang to participate in the annual Friendship Festival. While in Pyongyang, Carter met up with Middlesborough opera diva Suzannah Clarke, who has been performing at the Friendship Festival every year since 2003. Clarke’s North Korean connection is through football. She’s had a long association with […]

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North-themed update

by Philip Gowman 29 March 2006
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The Xinhua newsagency reports the cordial meeting between Kim Jong-Il’s brother-in-law Jang Song Taek and a member of the Chinese politbureau, as the DPRK’s tour of Chinese economic zones draws to a close. Meanwhile, Yoduk story, the musical based in a North Korean concentration camp, is a sell-out success. The BBC is now featuring the […]

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