Human rights groups upset with musical diplomacy in North Korea

By February 27, 2008

North Korea (MNN) — A concert in Pyongyang, North Korea by the well-known New York Philharmonic Orchestra from the United States is being called unprecedented, but it's also being met with some criticism. The Philharmonic opened with the "Star Spangled Banner" and continued through three encores. Musicians left the stage in tears. This is the first time any major cultural exchange has taken place since the Korean conflict.

However, the President of Open Doors USA Carl Moeller wasn't impressed. "The tragedy is that tens of millions of North Koreans are starving. [North Korea] is of course the #1 persecutor of Christians in the world and subjects its very own people to this horrible state of life. I think it's a sham that New York Philharmonic played there and none of this was ever brought up."

Moeller continues, "Somehow the New York Philharmonic Orchestra feels like this type of dialogue is appropriate with a dictator from Asia, but everyone would recoil with horror if we had done the same thing with Adolph Hitler's regime in Nazi Germany."

Many believe there are around 200,000 Christians currently in prison labor camps simply for believing in Christ.

Open Doors is trying to help them any way they can. "There are many thousands of believers in North Korea that Open Doors is providing the necessary resources to just survive, to live and to also grow in their Christian faith — Bibles and radio and various other types of materials that can help Christians grow."

Moeller says the secret to seeing regime change in North Korea is prayer from God's people around the world and "the fact that we can support Christians working for peace and working for justice within the society of North Korea. A spiritual change in that country will bring about a political change."

This cultural exchange is ironic, says Moeller. "It is to me the ultimate irony that we would send over a New York Philharmonic Orchestra to play beautiful music. It's almost like the band that played when the Titanic went down. You feel like this is a country that's drowning in its own totalitarianism, and we play on."

If you'd like to support Open Doors' work in North Korea and other nations where Christians are persecuted, click here.

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