October 23, 2012 / 5:30 PM / 7 years ago

U.N. chief to meet South Korean pop star, Austrian skydiver

South Korean singer Psy (R) practises some "Gangnam Style" dance steps with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a photo opportunity at the U.N. headquarters in New York October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - It’s not all war and peace at the United Nations. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon added pop music and supersonic skydiving to his agenda on Tuesday by scheduling meetings with “Gangnam Style” South Korean singer Psy and Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner.

Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, told reporters that while the secretary-general deals with weighty issues such as the conflict in Syria and crises in Mali and the Sahel region, he also believed it was important to engage other parts of society.

“For example, those who have been enthused by the scientific aspects of Felix Baumgartner’s leap from the edge of space, and in the case of Psy ... he firmly believes music has great power, particularly in helping to overcome intolerance,” he said.

“It helps to reach out to audiences in a way that many other forms of culture or interaction cannot do.”

Psy’s song “Gangnam Style,” which mocks the consumerism of a rich Seoul suburb, and hit horse-riding-style dance went viral on video-sharing website YouTube. It has been viewed more than 530 million times on YouTube since it was released in mid-July.

Baumgartner leapt into the stratosphere from a balloon near the edge of space 24 miles above Earth last week, setting a record for the highest skydive and breaking the sound barrier in the process.

Ban, a South Korean, is due to meet Baumgartner and Psy on Tuesday. Nesirky said both men “happened to be in town and were interested to meet the secretary-general and he was interested to meet them.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Stacey Joyce

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