Outrage: UK immigration bans Korean pianist from London festival

Outrage: UK immigration bans Korean pianist from London festival


norman lebrecht

November 18, 2011

After a week in which the Home Secretary Teresa May and the immigration authorities have stood accused of every kind of airport incompetence, here’s a piece of petty bureaucracy to make the blood boil.

The pianist Sunwook Kim, youngest winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition, was booked a year ago to play at the Wimbledon Music Festival, on the tenni-sgreen outskirts of southwest London. This week he was told he couldn’t. Why not? Because Kim is currently studying for an MA in conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and the gig was not included in his visa terms.

Kim offered to play for free. No deal, said the Home Office. Why? Cos we make the rules, don’t argue.

Happily for Wimbledon, the veteran John  Lill has stepped into the date. See the website for details.

But I want to hear young Sunwook Kim, and Mrs May won’t let me. What kind of free country is this, anyway? Will they ban Roger Federer next year?




  • David Conway says:

    It seems extraordinary that he is not allowed to play for free – I think a full explanation of this bizarre decision should be forthcoming – hand it on to an MP to investigate – or there is always the European Court of Justice… Btw I see from the link that Lill is stepping into the’breech’ (sic) – hope this doesn’t hamper his playing too much…..

  • ariel says:

    I am positive Mr.Kim is not surprised – the half wits running his part of the world are not much different from the
    half wits at the home office . It’s the idiots you vote into government so why all the outrage.?
    People get the governments they deserve and then are surprised at the stupidities enacted especially
    when they discover it is” their” ox that is being gored .Musicians are such wimps .

  • It is very simple. As per immigration law even working for free is still working. Which is right. If a person requiring a visa, is not allowed to help out in a chinese take-away dinner for free a pianist is not allowed to perform and therefore work for the festival for free.

    It is weird, but on this one I have to agree with the decision. Same rules for all workers.

  • Mathieu from France says:

    Yep, you never know, it could be a terrorist, or even worse, a member of the Occupy LSX mvt. — Shocking as it may be, it is far from being as absurd as what we endure in France. You most certainly know that there is a presidential election coming up next year, ant current President Sarozy is seeking reelection. As usual in this kind of period, he tries to seduce voters who had rather have Mrs. Le Pen as our next president. So, his last great idea to date is to order the administration to refuse systematically visa renewal to foreign students once they graduated or completed their degree. They are therefore precluded from finding a job in France. When you think of it, it is economically absurd: to train a PhD student is an investment; it costs money. So precluding him or her from working in France, i.e. from producing wealth, amounts to depriving oneself of the benefits of an investment. Even the Minister of Universities finds it an aberration! Not talking of entrepreneurs who are suddenly deprived of a highly quailified workforce. (As usual, apologies for my poor English)