Well, this is interesting:
North Korea has approved for the first time the hoisting of South Korea’s national flag and playing of its anthem on the communist country’s soil, the unification ministry said Friday.
The move comes as the North invited South Korean weightlifters to attend the 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship to be held in the communist country, the Ministry of Unification said.
If South Korean athletes win gold medals in the competition, South Korea’s national flag, the Taegeukgi, will be raised and its national anthem will be performed in North Korea for the first time.
In case you were wondering, South Korea has frequently allowed the flying of the North Korean flag and the playing of the North Korean national anthem during international sporting events, at least since 2005. Now, outside of international sporting events, displaying the North Korean flag can cause problems (unless you’re burning it, a favorite pastime of conservative activists). Case in point: controversy erupted when the recently opened Gwangju Design Biennale decided to remove several submissions from an exhibit of unified Korea flag proposals for the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju because they included the North Korean flag. Some 11 out of the 90 proposals were to be removed, including one by a French artist. The director of the biennale later rescinded the plan after talking with the artists in question, but you get the picture (no pun intended).
On an only tangentially related note, Gwangju was already taking a beating for moving to discipline the director of the Gwangju Metropolitan Boys and Girls Choir for dressing his kids in Che Guevara T-shirts (well, at least Hemingway would have approved). In the end, the city decided to simply give the director a warning, but he resigned on his own. Artists and other cultural types have been criticizing the aspiring Asian arts and culture mecca for its administrative rigidity:
The artistic and cultural establishment in Gwangju responded to this by saying that the tendency to take issue with pure artistic expression is a problem.
“I cannot understand how they are taking issue with this despite the fact that the concert did not have any ideological bent,” said Mun Sun-tae, a renowned fiction writer.
“If Gwangju wants to become a city of culture and creativity as it claims, it needs to be actively encouraging artistic expression,” Moon said. “The reason that it is taking issue with such expression is because of a misunderstanding of history.”
I’m not sure what “misunderstanding of history” he’s talking about, but he’s largely right about encouraging artistic expression. I’d just be curious to see how supportive the local arts scene would be if I dressed a bunch of kids in Rising Sun flag designs “out of pure artistic expression”…