Go to the New York Philharmonic website and look up its Asia 2008, “a five-city, eleven-concert tour, February 11–24, 2008, the first under the aegis of Global Sponsor Credit Suisse. The Orchestra begins in the south, with return visits to Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Hong Kong, and will make its debut in Shanghai before concluding the tour in performances in Beijing.” So it’s actually “The Chinas 2008”*.
But where’s Pyongyang? You know, the North Korean invitation, issued and accepted in balmier times, before the Six-Party Agreement, Second Phase, year-end deadline? But a mouseover at the NY Phil calendar tells you that on February 26 the orchestra is “On tour: Korea, 6:00 PM”. Click through, and you reach this, where you finally learn the details of the Pyongyang concert.
It could be mere coincidence that the event is being staged on the very day after South Korean President-Elect Kim Myung-bak’s inauguration ceremonies on February 25? After all, the Pyongyang date has been scheduled most conveniently, right after the Asia 2008 tour.
I doubt it. It is even more convenient for Kim Jong Il and the rest of the North Korean leadership to be able to beat the drums and issue the fanfare We Matter, right on the heels of the South Korean event. And no doubt about it, they will flood their domestic news outlets with reports not only on the concert itself but of the orchestra’s arrival, procession and whatever else by way of encouraging tidbits that they can squeeze out of the timely trip.
These grandmasters of spin never leave such matters to chance, for it is by stringing together these little tactical victories that they maintain their self-delusionary visions of strategic victory. It is, literally, a matter of life and death.
* Of course they couldn’t call it that, and they had to make it short and snappy; thus, Asia 2008. Compare to Japan Korea 2006. These people are mindful of the politics, since they have to mind the sensibilities of all sorts of donors and subscribers.