The New York Philharmonic Tries to Strike the Right Notes In North Korea

Will this interlude of musical diplomacy make a difference?


North Korea was tearing down anti-American propaganda as part of unprecedented accommodations for the New York Philharmonic's two-day visit to Pyongyang.

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Some conservative commentators have argued that the Philharmonic's visit would encourage Americans to neglect the North's human-rights record. Others predict that, as is common for high-profile visits to North Korea, the orchestra's foray will be presented as some sort of tribute to Kim Jong Il.

The ostensibly neutral, humanizing language of music, it's sometimes said, can work wonders. Whether the elegant notes played this week in Pyongyang can spur on real diplomacy, however, remains uncertain to musicians and officials alike.