It was pouring in Taipei but we stepped off the plane in Seoul to an icy minus 11! The view from the hotel was snow capped roofs and the frozen river. Beneath our windows was an outdoor skating rink! As always, the favorite foods were Korean Barbeque (grilling your meat at the table over charcoals), Ginsang Chicken (boiling chicken in spicy greens in a huge pot of soup on the table) or “Buboghi” (beef stew bubbling in a ceramic pot, hot from the oven). Kimchi (spicy, pickled cabbage) and garlic on the side to keep you warm!

Koreans are fiercely patriotic. They have built a modern economy which leads the Far East: Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai: giants of world industry. The Israel Philharmonic and Maestro Mehta helped to celebrate another successful Korean New Year with 2 concerts at the Seoul Arts Center.

The anthems of both Korea and Israel, led by a singer in traditional Korean ceremonial dress, were sung at the beginning of each concert. A festive reception in honor of Zubin and Nancy Mehta, and the IPO, was attended by the General Directors of Kia Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hyundai Shipyards, and Bank of America alongside the Israeli ambassador to Korea and his military attaché.

The hosts for the evening were Rami and Yael Ungar and their family. As Zubin humbly said, “We musicians are just crumbs next to these giants of industry,” but these “giants” were full of admiration for Mehta and the musical message of the Israel Philharmonic. Following the second concert in Seoul, a huge auto carrier ship capable of transporting 6500 new cars was christened in Hyundai shipyards by Mrs. Nancy Mehta.

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