Inter-Korean Cultural Swap Moving into High Gear

Article excerpt

With the latest announcement of the North and South Korea summit to be held in June, peaceful coexistence on the peninsula now seems close to reality. Although the agenda for the meeting has yet to be hammered out, the expansion of exchanges on a private level, such as economic collaboration and reunion of separated families, will likely emerge as core topics of the discussion.

Against this background, the event is hoped to provide an additional momentum to the already burgeoning inter-Korean cultural exchange. Over past years, various cultural sectors have sought ways to reach the estranged North, culminating with the Berlin declaration by President Kim Dae-jung during his visit to Germany in March. The declaration repeated President Kim's open policy toward the the North.

Yet, with no official channel linking the two sides, arrangements for exchange are mostly made mostly through informal routes in third countries like China, often involving hefty amounts of money paid to the cash-stripped North.

An increasing number of these events have begun to take the form of joint projects, as seen by the mammoth concert held in Pyongyang last December. Apart from established popular and traditional musicians, teenage stars like SES and Sechs Kies also took part, taking the stage with their North Korean counterparts.

Boosted by the success of the December event, arrangements for another gala are underway. If realized, the event will take place in Pyongyang and Seoul alternately, featuring orchestras from both sides, along with a number of prominent musicians, both Korean and foreign.

Meanwhile, a group of music experts are discussing the possibility of a joint study of musical instruments developed in both sides over the years. They believe that sharing their expertise will not only bridge the decades of chasm, but also enrich the country's music scene.

In line with the trend, television broadcast companies have also been looking into ways to produce programs in collaboration with the North. While some are rumored to have ventured to the North after paying a large amount of money through brokers in Beijing, others choose to do what they can under the circumstances.

For example, Kim Yoon-young, an MBC producer who has been making programs on North Korea for some ten years, is planning a documentary on the natural environment of the Demilitarized Zone. …