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Learning English - Words in the News
25 February, 2008 - Published 12:01 GMT
NY Philharmonic visits North Korea
New York Philharmonic orchestra

The New York Philharmonic orchestra has arrived in North Korea, for what has been described as a remarkable display of cultural diplomacy. The orchestra hopes this week's concert in Pyongyang will help ease tensions with the communist state. This report from John Sudworth:

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The concert will be the most prominent cultural exchange between the United States and North Korea in the isolated country's history. It comes amid the ongoing diplomatic push to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons, and the Pyongyang performance has the blessing of the US government.

But others argue that a visit by such a distinguished institution as the New York Philharmonic gives the North Korean state an air of respectability it doesn't deserve. One New York tabloid has called the venture a disgrace.

Before accepting the invitation the Orchestra says it insisted the concert should begin with the United States' national anthem. It's not yet known whether the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, will be in the audience to hear it.

John Sudworth, BBC News, Seoul

Listen to the words

the most prominent cultural exchange
the most well-known or famous visit between people from two countries to share aspects of the arts with each other

cut off from, remote, has no contact with other counties

amid the ongoing diplomatic push to persuade
during the attempts just now by politicians to try to make something happen

has the blessing of
is approved by

a distinguished institution as
a very well-known and respected organisation as

an air of respectability it doesn't deserve
makes North Korea seem respectable but the country hasn't actually earned that respect

newspaper that usually prints stories about entertainment and is often more shocking than more serious newspapers

called the venture a disgrace
said that the visit was embarrassing and would cause the US to lose respect

national anthem
country's official song which is played or sung on public occasions

in the audience
at the concert

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