Seoul in torment as US tour is cancelled

Seoul in torment as US tour is cancelled


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2015

We’re hearing that April’s Seoul Philharmonic US tour with music director Myung Whun Chung has been scrapped amid continuing media and political assaults. We understand that Ms Park, the CEO sacked for sexual harrassment, told members of the city council that the tour was ‘unnecessary’ and ‘a waste of public money’. She also alleged that a UK-based agency, AskonasHolt, would make a fortune on the tour.

Wednesday’s police raid on the orchestra was, it has become clear, an attempt by Ms Park, a member of a powerful local dynasty, ‘to secure materials that may help establish the identification of the person who sent out an email’ about her harassment. Chung has been threatened with prosecution in manipulated sections of the press, but he has not been interviewed by police on any count of wrongdoing.

Meantime, 68 of 100 musicians in the KBS broadcasting orchestra have refused to sign a new contract. KBS has hived the orch off to an independent contractor and the players face loss of tenure and pension.

north korea

Maybe they should try out a new Korean pianist?


  • SDReader says:

    This will surely lead to the loss of Myung-Whun Chung, and who could blame him?

    Stupid bureaucrats, for heeding the bitter woman.

  • uri says:

    Unbelievable. The SPO has had celebrated, fantastic foreign tours. The US tour was planned to take place at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, in Seattle and elsewhere. That the SPO’s great achievement is put at stake is simply inconceivable. A great symphony orchestra with a world class Music Director is both crucial for the image of the nation and for the wellbeing of Korean people.
    And that the City Council has so readily jumped up on ex-CEO Ms Park’s bandwagon is a scandal. But here is a glimpse of how Korean politicians occasionally behave (so perhaps this all should not come as a surprise really):

  • Nick says:

    Cancelling a seven concert tour that includes Walt Disney Hall and Chicago’s Symphony Hall at only a month’s notice must surely open up all kinds of legal issues against the Seoul Phil. I can’t imagine contracts have any clause in them about a mad ex-CEO’s seeking her own personal vengeance. That surely cannot be fobbed off as force majeure! So I wonder who will pay out? The Seoul City Government?

  • korry kung says:

    Kim jong nut cancelled the tour because he was afraid that players would defect and seek political asylum in the US. after getting blazed in seattle.

    The 68 musicians of the KBS aren’t protesting , they are probably just preparing for their audition for hahm’s S.O.N.G. , the new Symphony of the Nazi Gook.

    • Luk says:

      I don’t get the connection with Kim Jong Un…

    • MWnyc says:

      Norman, maybe it’s different in the UK, but in the States, “gook” is considered an ethnic slur along the lines of the n-word.

      Are you sure you want to leave Korry Kung’s comment unredacted?

  • Doug says:

    Now all we need is Yosemite Same to sneak into NK.

  • Brian says:

    Not merely any Korean pianist, Norman, but the greatest pianist in history.

  • Eli says:

    I thought Seoul was in South Korea. Guess I was wrong. It must be in North Korea or maybe it just seems like it

    • Luk says:

      Seoul is indeed in South Korea (it’s the capital actually), this is why I did not get the reference to Kim Jong Un which is the north korean leader…

      North and South Korea are different as day and night.

      • Ceòl says:

        That’s absolutely correct – but it’s also true that South Korea is far away from a truly liberal country which would include a functioning system of checks and balances including consistent value of individual human rights, an independent and critical press, a (relative) lack of oligarchies, relative lack of internet censorship, transparency etc. Especially during the last years, in particular during the term of imcumbent president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a former military dictator, worrying things have been going on, including the wilful banning of a political party, strong enforcement of internet and other censorship, etc. I have written more about this issue in my previous reader commentary on this website: