Chung Myung-whun's Future with Seoul Philharmonic Up in the Air

      December 29, 2015 14:51

      Chung Myung-whun

      The renewal of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra's controversial conductor Chung Myung-whun has been postponed again as the board of directors on Monday failed to come to a conclusion.

      Seoul Philharmonic president Choi Heung-sik said, "There were disagreements on the renewal period, but we will try to make a decision before mid-January." The contract expires at the end of this month.

      The reasons for the wrangling are somewhat cloudy. Some point out that Chung's wife has been indicted for defaming the orchestra's former president Park Hyun-jung, which led to Park's resignation but inflamed loyalists in the orchestra.

      The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it is still determined it wants Chung to head the orchestra.

      But it is unclear whether the mercurial Chung will wait out any more delays. Chung in August said he cares more for the music than a high position. "As long as the Seoul Philharmonic and the audience want, I will continue to conduct concerts that I've promised to do," he said.

      Chung is a colorful and not uncontroversial figure in his own right. The scandal began in December last year, when administrative staff accused Park of verbally abusing and sexually harassing staff.

      Park not only denied the claims but said they had been fabricated by Chung as part of an orchestrated campaign to get her out. Each side sued each other, and Park was also sued for sexual harassment by a dozen staff.

      The charges were soon dropped and Park's accusers at law and Chung's wife booked instead and investigated for systematic defamation.

      Reason enough to investigate whether she did indeed mastermind a smear campaign against Park, but not the only reason Chung may have his detractors. Widely credited with galvanizing the once-sleepy orchestra, he is also sometimes accused of asking humungous fees for himself.

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