| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The New York Philharmonic is
considering an official invitation from the North Korean
government to perform in Pyongyang, the United States' oldest
symphony orchestra said on Monday.
"We have just very recently received an inquiry about the
possibility of the New York Philharmonic performing in
Pyongyang," said orchestra spokesman Eric Latzky.
"It came from an independent representative as an official
invitation of the Ministry of Culture," he said. "We appreciate
any invitation to the New York Philharmonic and will explore
the possibility of this as we would any other invitation."
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Sunday that
U.S. envoy Christopher Hill and his North Korean counterpart
Kim Kye-gwan had discussed the possibility of civilian
exchanges between the two countries in a bid to improve ties.
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North
Korea's nuclear ambitions softened in February when the
reclusive Communist state agreed to a disarmament deal, which
led to bilateral meetings between Hill and Kim Kye-gwan.
Latzky said the New York Philharmonic has performed in 418
cities worldwide since it began international tours in 1930,
including several shows in South Korea.
It has never played in North Korea.
The orchestra was founded in 1842 by a group of local
musicians and plays some 180 concerts a year. In late 2004 the
Philharmonic gave its 14,000th concert -- a milestone unmatched
by any other orchestra in the world.
(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Seoul)