Beijing Symphony cancels concerts in Korea amid missile defense tensions

Andrew Park, March 8, 2017, 10:05 a.m.


Beijing Symphony Orchestra has scrapped its planned concerts in South Korea, its organizer said Wednesday, as China curbs cultural exchanges in response to the deployment of a US missile shield in the neighboring country.

The Korean and US militaries began the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense this week despite China's vehement opposition to the missile defense system which it feared would hurt its security interests.

Seoul-based concert organizer JK & Company said that it was notified via email last week that the BSO decided to cancel its performances in Korea, without clarifying the reasons. The Harbin Symphony Orchestra will perform instead, the company added.

The orchestra, founded in 1977, planned to hold a concert in Seoul and several other cities from Oct. 15 to 21 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. In 2007, it held a concert in Seoul's Sejong Center to mark the 15th anniversary.

A diplomatic feud between the two nations over the US anti-missile system is taking a toll on Korea's industrial, tourism and cultural sectors.

In recent months, Korean artists' concerts have been abruptly called off. China also urged its people not to visit Korea, sending shockwaves through the tourism industry. Chinese visitors make up almost half of Korea's inbound tourists.

However, this is not the first time that China has apparently stopped its artists from performing in another country when diplomatic tensions were heightened.

Amid territorial disputes with Japan over the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyudao in China, pianists Li Yundi and Lang Lang canceled their Japanese tours in 2012 and 2013, respectively. 

"The impact of China's retaliatory measures against the THAAD deployment is bigger than expected," said an industry source, who asked not to be named, urging the government to come up with measures to cope with the matter. 

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