The day after Christmas, they sacked the orchestra

The day after Christmas, they sacked the orchestra


norman lebrecht

December 31, 2018

From a correspondent in South Korea:

One day after Christmas, on December 26th musicians of the Yangju Philharmonic Orchestra found a notice in their rehearsal room which says that the orchestra (35 members) and the choir (28 members) have been dissolved.

The city of Yangju is located north of Seoul and has a population of about 214,000 on an area of 119.7 square miles. It is probably the city located closest to North Korea (about 16 miles away).

Has the city to make cuts because of budget squeeze? No, on the contrary: the city’s budget for 2019 will be 10,49% bigger than in 2018 (around 690 million USD. The annual budget of the orchestra and choir combined has been about 635,000 USD (with a monthly average salary of about 500 USD).

So is it the lack of quality? Certainly not, they can play on an excellent level, as one can see and hear from this video recorded two weeks ago:



  • Phillip Ayling says:

    So we know what the reasons are not…any idea who made the decision and why?

  • Suzanne says:

    Lots of additional players in the video posted, almost half, if the orchestra’s official strength was 35.

  • I can think of two possible reasons someone might have decided to put the money elsewhere.

    One is that, although the ensemble have played well, no appreciable audience for it ever developed.

  • Robert Groen says:

    That’s the end of the New Year’s concerts from Yangju. Used to enjoy those. I used to go straight from Yangju to Vienna every new Year’s Day.. Oh well…..

  • Jehi Bahk says:

    A political decision made by the mayor of the city of Yangju who didn’t like the idea that the orchestra has formed a union because of problems with the former chief conductor who eventually has been fired last August because of abuse of power and nepotism.

    This issue has been also in the prime time news of a major Korean broadcasting network:

  • Sonia Horn says:

    Wow, wonderful weblog format! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The total look of your site is magnificent, let alone the content material!

  • I like your thoughts, on your time here! I agree with just about everything you said about Korea…it is definitely not a cheap country compared to other places in Asia, that is for sure! Since I have been living here for about 6 weeks now, I have discovered the cheap places to eat in my neighborhood. Kim bap places are the way to go…two of us eat well for $10, it is awesome.

  • Great post! I had the same impressions of South Korea while I was there. I came to South Korea directly from Japan, where I spent 3 months. I got used to calm Japanese people waiting in the line to enter the metro and then I landed in Seoul and nearly died in the metro.. Your budget is really small considering the fact you paid for all of your acommodation. I totally recommend CouchSurfing, I saved a lot using CS.

  • I’ve heard really wonderful things about Japan! Ugh yeah here in Taiwan people aren’t that rushed either but Korea was a whoooole different story when it came to riding the subway or bus! Sad story, we actually had a CS lined up for Busan but then our host crapped out on us the last minute I would have loved to try CS there but guess it wasn’t in the books for us to do it.