"Japan has Sony and Toyota, trademarks that are recognized all over America, but Korea has nothing but the Little Angeles, and now the government is cutting off its nose to spite is face."
Daniel Ben-Av, the Los Angeles promoter who spoke these angry words, is not a disinterested party in the current dispute over the future of the touring troupe of South Korean dancers.
For the past several years, he has handled booking for the Little Angeles, state fairs in the American Midwest, command performances before royalty, appearances with the glitter of Liberace in Las Vegas gambling halls.
"They project a fantastic image for their country wherever they go," Ben-Av said in a recent telephone conversation.
A few months ago, he had booked the troupe for a series of performances in Europe, highlighted by a gala charity appearance in London in December, again before Queen Elizabeth, [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES] dent of the Korean Cultural and Free- [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES] as well as King Hussein of Jordan and a host of other dignitaries.
But in October, Bo Hi Pak, president of the Korean Cultural and Feedom Foundation and founder of the Little Angeles, told Ben-Av that the government of President Park Chung Hee of South Korea, had refused to give the young dancers the necessary exit permits.
"Bo Hi went to London, tried to convince the South Korean ambassador there to let them appear for that St. John's Ambulance show - it's sort of like our Red Cross, very big," Ben-Av said. But the plea went unanswered and the scheduled concerts had to be canceled. "It's a shame for everyone," the promoters said.
The official explanation is that the South Korean government - which has paid for some Little Angel tours in past years - changed its policy toward children traveling abroad.
The unofficial explanation is that the Park regime, already shackled by allegations of attempts it tried to buy influence from American politicians, decided to put some distance between itself and the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.