Friday, March 23, 2012

Musical Diplomacy in the Information Age

Music occasionally becomes the focal point of diplomacy, especially when it involves a relatively closed country like North Korea.    Although most of the news from North Korea these days concerns that nation's nuclear program and its announced intention to launch a satellite in April 2012, there is an interesting exception circulating on YouTube these days.  It is a video of five North Korean teenage accordionists performing the 1960s pop song "Take on Me."  The Associated Press carried an interesting report on how this video came to be.  It is worth reading and the video itself is embedded here.

Musical diplomacy also occurred when the New York Philharmonic Orchestra visited North Korea in 2008. One of the highlights of their concert in Pyongyang, carried by CNN, was a symphonic arrangement of the Korean folk song "Arirang."

Whether carried live by CNN or circulating virally on YouTube, music represents an interesting aspect of information-age diplomacy and provides an opportunity for a glimpse into a society beyond closed borders.

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