Will North Korean musicians tour the U.S. this year?
Musicians from North Korea's National Symphony Orchestra could travel to the U.S. as early as this year for a multiple-city tour organized by American promoters, according to reports. But the tour isn't a certainty because approval is required by officials from both countries.
The proposed visit would last 18 days and begin in Atlanta and end with a performance in New York, reported the Associated Press. The group behind the planned tour is Global Resource Services, a humanitarian organization based in Atlanta.
In the past, a select number of U.S. arts groups have been able to travel to North Korea, most notably members of the New York Philharmonic in 2008. It is much rarer for artists from the closed country to travel to the U.S. Defections could be a concern for North Korean officials and would be a source of embarrassment for the country.
The AP reported that the tour was initially scheduled for February but was put on hold following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il late last year. Musicians and other personnel from North Korea would need to obtain visas to travel to the U.S.
Earlier this month, member of North Korea's Unhasu Orchestra traveled to Paris for a joint concert with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
Since its independence in 1945, North Korea has never established official diplomatic ties with the U.S.
-- David Ng
Photo: A view of a statue of Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: Ren Libo / Associated Press / Xinhua