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New York Philharmonic Performs in North Korea

The New York Philharmonic rehearses in Pyongyang's Grand Eastern Theater.
Anthony Kuhn, NPR
The New York Philharmonic rehearses in Pyongyang's Grand Eastern Theater.

The New York Philharmonic is in North Korea as part of a historic cultural exchange. The philharmonic is the first major American cultural group to visit the isolated communist nation. The group will perform a concert Tuesday night that will be aired on state-run radio and television.

Critics say the concert only serves to burnish the image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

But conductor Lorin Maazel points out that North Korean musicians are participating in the concert, as well as in master classes with the philharmonic.

He says cultural exchanges are planting the seeds of art, which is more powerful than any individual leader.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.