Seoul Philharmonic Director Chung Myung Whun Wants to Visit North Korea

kpride, June 15, 2015, 8:51 a.m.

Chung Myung-whun, the musical director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, hopes to take the Staatskapelle Dresden to North Korea in November. Chung is also principal guest conductor with the German orchestra. 

Chung told reporters last week, "We will perform in Seoul on Nov. 18 and 19 and plan to go to Pyongyang afterwards. Germany and Korea share similarities [such as experiences of decades of division], and it would be wonderful if the trip to North Korea is allowed." Chung said the final decision rests with North Korea.

Founded in 1548, the Staatskapelle is one of Germany's leading orchestras, and Chung has been principal guest conductor since 2012. The same year he made his first foray into reconciliation with North Korea through music, conducting a joint concert by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, where he has been music director for 15 years, and North Korea's Unhasu Orchestra. 

Chung has caused some controversy here over his high salary and suspicions of embezzlement. But he said he should be judged by his accomplishments with the Seoul Philharmonic over the last decade and added he would gladly step down if he does not deserve the pay checks. He also denied misusing the orchestra's budget for personal purposes. He leaves the Radio France job in September but is likely to be made honorary musical director. 

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