Park Won-soon suggests Seoul-Pyongyang soccer match and orchestra performance

Park Won-soon suggests Seoul-Pyongyang soccer match and orchestra performance
Seoul mayor’s address reminds that events between North and South can enhance cooperation and bring peace

By Park Ki-yong

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon made a formal proposal to the South Korean government and North Korean authorities to revive the “Gyeong-Pyong match”, a football event organized by Koreans during the Japanese occupation, and to allow the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Pyongyang. Park said he hoped these events would contribute to the establishment of peace between North and South.

In a New Year’s address Saturday, Park said, “The strained state of inter-Korean relations and the unpredictable situation in North Korea represent an issue that is directly linked with balanced development in Seoul and the lives of Seoul’s citizens.”

“The city wants to do something, however small, to help relieve the tensions and establish peace,” he added.

The Gyeong-Pyong football event began in 1929 with a match at Seoul’s Hwimun High School’s stadium between a Gyeongseong team consisting primarily of Gyeongseong Middle School players and a Pyongyang team made up mainly of Soongsil School players. Gyeongseong is an old name for Seoul. The first event was met with enthusiasm as over 7,000 people came to watch over the three days it was going on.

The last event was organized in Seoul in March 1946 before the battle disappeared into history with the entrenchment of the peninsula’s division. Park’s reference to a Pyongyang performance by the Seoul Philharmonic was a reference to a proposal made by that orchestra’s artistic director, Chung Myung-whun, during a September 2011 visit to the North Korean capital. At the time, Chung suggested the organizing of a joint performance by symphony orchestras from the North and South.