"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks, should they? Is our standing as a country -- the United States -- is our reputation all that clean when it comes to prisoners and the way they are treated?" the 77-year-old conductor said in an interview with the Associated Press the night before the orchestra's departure for Asia.The brutality of the North Korean regime is well known. The fact that after 60 years of communist rule, the once relatively prosperous northern provinces of Korea have been plunged into a nightmare of tyranny and famine, totalitarianism and poverty, is well known. The horror of life in North Korea has been described in hideous detail too many times for even a leftist drone like Maazel to be ignorant of it. Maazel's comments are the product of a sick and decadent post-modern relativism.
His musicians seem to have enjoyed the performance they staged for the North Korean elite:
"When we received this very warm, enthusiastic reception, we felt that indeed there may be a mission accomplished here. We may have been instrumental in opening a little door, and we certainly hope that if that is true, in the long run it will be seen as a watershed."
Maazel wasn't the only New Yorker moved by the event. The Philharmonic's principal bassist, John Deak, said when the musicians started leaving the stage, the North Koreans started waving at them.
"Half of the orchestra burst into tears, including myself and we started waving back at them and suddenly there was this kind of artistic bond that is just a miracle. I'm not going to make any statements about what's going to change or everything. Things happen slowly. But I do know that the most profound connection was made with the Korean people tonight."
North Korea has executed 22 fishermen who strayed out of the country's waters by mistake, it was claimed yesterday.
The group were apparently gunned down once they returned to the Stalinist state.
Having drifted into South Korean territory, they had the opportunity to seek asylum, but insisted they never had any intention of doing so.
They told South Korean officials they had strayed accidentally while fishing for clams and oysters, so were sent back to North Korea - and to their deaths.
A South Korean newspaper reported yesterday that all the drifters were immediately shot dead in a secret location by agents of North Korea's national security agency.
It was another alleged incident supporting claims that North Korea has a "no tolerance" policy against anyone suspected of trying to leave the country - even in error.
The drama began when two North Korean fishing boats containing 14 women and eight men - among them three teenagers - drifted into waters off South Korea's Yeonpyeong island.
South Korean officials, suspecting at first that the group were intending to defect, questioned them about their plans and were told they had accidentally strayed out of North Korean waters.
There were a large number of women on the vessels, it was explained, because they were needed to clean the oysters and clams.
Satisfied with their story, the South Koreans seized the two boats and sent the group back across the border via an overland route.
Last night, a source with the South Korean national intelligence agency said: "We found the group were neither asylum seekers nor spies.
"They didn't want to stay in South Korea, so we sent them back.
"We have heard that they were shot, but we had no idea that would happen."
This horrible atrocity reveals the character of the regime for whose privileged members Lorin Maazel and his duped orchestra provided entertainment -- and respectability.
Another minor disgusting detail from NPR's glowing account of the concert:
After the concert, which included an encore of "Arirang," North Korea's most famous traditional folk song, conductor Lorin Maazel said he was surprised at the overwhelming response.Arirang is not a "North Korean" folksong. It is a Korean folksong, well loved and often sung in South Korea. Typical of the communist sympathizing NPR to attribute any positive cultural artifact to a tyrannical communist regime, rather than to the entire Korean people.