Korean soprano Jo Su-mi's tour of three Chinese cities that had been scheduled to start on Feb. 19 has been canceled without explanation.
The cancelation comes amid growing signs of petty retaliation in China for Korea's decision to station a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. here.
"I'd like to tell you that my tour in China has been canceled," Jo tweeted Tuesday. "At their invitation, I have prepared for the concerts for two years but they did not even give me a reason for it. It saddens me to witness the current situation where conflicts between the two countries are affecting even the pure cultural and arts sectors."
She put up a link to a New York Times article on the cancelation. "The cancelations have heightened suspicions that South Korean classical musicians are the latest casualties of political tensions with China that go back to July, when the government in Seoul announced that it would deploy [the battery] on its soil," the paper said.
Jo's tour was supposed to be a tribute on the 40th anniversary of the death of legendary soprano Maria Callas this year. Askonas Holt of the U.K. was organizing the tour, and she was to sing with the Beijing China Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony, and Guangzhou Symphony orchestras in those cities.
But the invitation letters from the Chinese orchestras that were required for her visa application never arrived, and instead they told Jo on Sunday that the tour was canceled.
Chung Min, the son of maestro Chung Myung-whun, was supposed to conduct them, but both he and Jo have been replaced by Chinese musicians.
Jo is much loved in China, where she performed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Chinese and gives concerts every year.
Earlier, Korean pianist Paik Kun-woo's performance with the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra on March 18 was also abruptly canceled.
British music critic Norman Lebrecht wrote on his website last week, "The cancelation is significant. In September 2000, [Paik] was the first Korean artist to be invited to perform in China. Amid rising regional tensions, Beijing has banned all Korean performers since November 2016."
Paik's agent said, "The orchestra printed out posters and programs, but we heard that the Chinese government did not approve the visa." Paik was replaced by Chinese pianist Sa Chen.
Jo Su-mi tweets on Tuesday about the cancelation of her tour in China.