Unhasu Orchestra play with Radio France Philharmonic

A North Korean and a French orchestra have performed together in a concert in Paris, led by renowned South Korean conductor Chung Myung-Whun.

He told the audience at the Salle Pleyel music hall that the concert featuring the Unhasu orchestra and the Radio France Philharmonic showed that "music is bigger than borders".

He dedicated an encore, of Korean song Arirang, to his North Korean mother.

Tensions between North Korea and the West have been high over the years.

'French family'

Chung, who has led Radio France Philharmonic since 2000, is also the principal conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

Image caption The ensemble performed a second encore of Bizet's Carmen

He told the audience he had got to know another part of his "family" - members of the Unhasu orchestra - who were playing with his "French family".

The joint ensemble performed works including Brahms's Symphony No 1 and Bizet's Carmen.

In the first half of the concert, the 75 Unhasu musicians performed North Korean pieces including works for traditional stringed instruments the haegum and the zither-like kayagum.

Speaking last week, Chung said he had been trying to organise such a concert - which comes as tensions remain high between the two Koreas - for 30 years.

"For practically all Koreans, outside the world of politics, there are not two Koreas - there's only one country, a family divided," he said.

"I don't know a single Korean who doesn't want at least a rapprochement between the two Koreas, a normal situation, if not reunification."

North and South Korea are, technically, still in a state of war. The two countries never signed a peace treaty after an armistice ended their 1950-53 conflict.

They are separated by one of the world's most heavily fortified borders and both have strong military capabilities.

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