Monday, February 25, 2008

The Hermit Kingdom beckons

Americans in Pyongyang

The following letter welcoming the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to Pyongyang on the eve of its historic concert there tomorrow has been published by the North Korean League of Girl Accordionists, apparently with the approval of President Kim Jong Il and the help of a Korean-English dictionary of musical terms. We have chosen to reprint it verbatim. (The Times Online Edition)

“Greetings to New York Musiclovers' Orchestra and listeners of the world in unison! Our Dear Lieder welcomes you to the shores quiet-flowing old man Taedong River, where great East Pongyang Theatre is majestically fulfilled with chairs, music stands and electric lighting for your whole foreign concert. It will be a clashing cymbal of d├ętente.

“Our nation's father is world-most-known musicologist, composing perfect symphonies for our accordions and also decomposing decadent lackey pop for Korean youth safety. In counterpoint, he loftily supports classics and sees no bass designs in your chosen Gershwin and Dvorak programme, respectfully An American in Paris' and New World Symphony. A dittier man would cry, “by Jingo!”, but not our chief magnanimous conductor. His achievements all self-trumpet.

“Not since spy ship USS Pueblo's arrest 40 years ago has our nation given foreign visas on this major scale. We hide nothing in our guitar cases. Foreign discourse on our so-called Gulag Arpeggio are a pure crotchety note of misinform, and we trust that your second violins are not disguised fifth column, or diminished seventh.

“We are not hungry. We have great tubas. So enjoy Communist Korea from C to shining C.”

Originally appeared in the Times Online