Interview with "Princess Tenko"
-- Koreans Are Friendly, Have Deep Understanding of Art --

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A world-famous Japanese magician Hikida Tenko, known as Princess Tenko in the United States, visited the DPRK in April to give performances at the 16th April Spring Friendship Art Festival held in Pyongyang. In the annual festival participated in by the world's top artists, she captivated the hearts of Pyongyangites with her sophisticated magic shows.

Here is an interview with Hikida Tenko on her impression of the DPRK:


--How was your visit to the DPRK and what was the most impressive experience you had in the country?

I felt that north Korea has a long history, which can be seen from its streets, buildings and people. Korean people are all proud of their history, and I've hardly ever found an attitude like Koreans' in Japanese people, to my regret.

I believe that the long history of north Korea helps people deepen the understanding of art and cultivate the minds of people. My nine staffs and I never felt uncomfortable during our stay in the country.

I gave performances abroad many times, and I often heard people saying I dislike Japanese,especially in Asian countries. I had expected that north Korean people would react in the same way as other Asians in consideration of a sad history between the two countries. However, in Pyongyang, everyone friendly welcomed me and highly appreciated me as an artist.

The most impressive were various events held on April 15, the Sun's Day. A fantastic ball was given at the Kim Il Sung Square, and all the corners of the square were crowded with dancing people. I was given a seat which was very close to that of a north Korean vice minister, where guests from China and Egypt also took seats. I appreciated that they warmly received me, an ordinary artist, as a privileged guest.


--How was the festival?

I gave performances in various places of the world, but the Pyongyang festival may be the biggest one I have ever participated in. I was surprised to hear that such a big festival attended by artists from the world have been annually held since the day when the late President was living. Although I had to go through a very hard schedule, I had very good experience and learned many things as an artist.

All the audiences there were sophisticated and were well aware of manners to give applause to great performances.


--What about meetings with Korean artists?

I met singer Cho Chong Mi who was a Merited Artist at a party I hosted on April 17 by way of returning courtesies. Someone handed me a memo on the table written in Japanese which said that I could request Cho to sing a song. The memo was from north Korean magician Kim Taek Song, which was translated by a Korean journalist from Japan.

She willingly accepted my request and sang a song off-handedly. She had a most powerful volume of voice I had ever heard and I realized that she really was a great singer. I had a great time at the party.


--After you came back to Japan, some Japanese papers and magazines made false reports on the DPRK including the report that you met General Secretary Kim Jong Il, by distorting comments you gave to interviewers. What do you think about these distorted reports?

Honestly speaking, I felt somewhat uneasy before I left for Pyongyang as I had read negative reports on north Korea published by Japanese media. However, I had very pleasant experiences in north Korea, and I told Japanese reporters what I directly saw and felt there. I resented some Japanese papers for distorting my words.

I frankly told them that wonderful things were wonderful. I think that reports by Japanese media had already been organized regardless of my comments.

Due to such false reports, I felt very sorry for the Korean people who gave a hearty welcome to me. I want to correct these reports.


--Are you going to do something concerning Korea?

Although I was not able to meet General Secretary Kim Jong Il, I was given the hearts of Korean people and that was the greatest result of my visit to the DPRK. People concerned said that we should make efforts to normalize relationships between Japan and north Korea. I think I am no more than an artist, but, my visit to the country made me feel that I should do my best to promote friendship between the two countries.

If I am invited again, I would love to visit north Korea. I also would like to promote exchange with Korean residents in Japan.


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