N. Korean, French orchestras hold landmark joint concert
PARIS (Yonhap) -- A North Korean and a French orchestra held a landmark joint concert in Paris on Wednesday, helping to boost cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Pyongyang's Unhasu Orchestra performed North Korean songs and French composer Camille Saint-Saens's Violin Concerto at the packed Salle Pleyel theater before holding a joint concert with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of France.
The joint orchestras performed Brahms' Symphony No. 1 and Korean folk song called "Arirang" under the baton of renowned South Korean conductor Chung Myung-whun.
Chung, who organized the joint performance, said after the concert that he chose Arirang because it is the most well-known and loved song by Koreans before the division of the Korean Peninsula.
North and South Korea have remained technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The sold-out performance was broadcast live by a French network.
It marks the first time the Unhasu Orchestra has held a concert in Paris, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.
On Tuesday, the Unhasu Orchestra paid a courtesy call on the general director of the Radio Broadcasting of France.
The general director expressed hope that the cultural exchanges between the two countries would develop in the future, noting the joint performance would be of significance in showing the development of bilateral cultural relations, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday.
Kwon Hyok-bong, who leads the Unhasu Orchestra, also voiced hope that the joint performance would offer an opportunity to boost cultural exchanges between the two countries and expand their relations in various fields, the KCNA said in a dispatch from Pyongyang. Kwon made the comment in a news conference on Tuesday.
North Korea and France do not have formal diplomatic relations, but France opened an office in Pyongyang last year to foster cultural exchanges.
Chung unsuccessfully pushed for an inter-Korean concert due to lingering political tensions over the North's two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.