The trip, coming 18 months after North Korea's underground nuclear tests and in the middle of renewed diplomatic attempts to defuse the weapons program crisis, is "heavily charged with symbolism," says The Times of London.
The United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea and has only sent a handful of envoys to visit the country since the end of the Korean War, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Not since 1950 when the U.S. Army briefly captured Pyongyang during the Korean War have so many Americans descended on the world's most reclusive, anti-US capital. This time, though, the invasion is not military, but musical.
"This journey is a manifestation of the power of music to unite people," [the Philharmonic's executive director Zarin] Mehta said ahead of the trip. "It is our sincere hope that these concerts will aid in the beginning of a new era between the peoples of our nations."