S. Korean maestro meets N. Korea artists

14th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A renowned South Korean conductor attended orchestra performances and met artists on a visit to Pyongyang aimed at promoting cultural exchanges and ease tensions, state media said Wednesday.

Chung Myung-Whun, who leads the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and also serves as as a UNICEF "goodwill ambassador," arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with two senior Seoul orchestra officials.

He watched and conducted performances of the North's state symphony orchestra and the Unhasu Orchestra, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.

Chung, who also serves as the music director of Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, held talks with artists and visited Pyongyang's Mangyongdae Schoolchildren's Palace, it said.

Chung said in Beijing on Monday he hoped his trip would boost cross-border cultural exchanges.

"As an individual and a musician, I hope two Koreas could get closer to each other more naturally," he was quoted by the South's Yonhap news agency as saying.

In 2006, Chung was invited to participate in a peace concert in North Korea, but the concert was called off after the communist state conducted a nuclear test.

The South has placed restrictions on its people travelling to the North since Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a warship in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives.

The North denied involvement in the sinking but shelled a South Korean border island last November, killing four people including two civilians.

In recent weeks, Seoul has relaxed restrictions as it moves to improve ties with Pyongyang.

A South Korean Buddhist delegation visited North Korea last week, the first such religious trip since ties turned icy over the sinking of a warship last year.

© 2011 AFP

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