KBS Symphony Orchestra (KBSSO) was established in 1956 under the Korean
Broadcasting System, the leading public broadcaster in Korea at the time. Having been acquired by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Public Information in 1969 as a national institute, the orchestra returned to its original home at KBS in 1981. The beloved musical institute gained independent legal entity status as a foundational corporation in 2012 with a focus on professional arts management.
Since its establishment in 1956, the KBSSO has been leading the growth of the classical music community in Korea with its high-caliber performances. A number of world-class conductors have led the orchestra over the decades, starting with Lim Won-sik, the inaugural chief conductor, and including Yeon-taek Hong, Kyung-su Won, Othmar Maga, Myung-whun Chung, Dmitri Kitaenko, and Yoel Levi. Pietari Inkinen was appointed the ninth music director of the KBSSO in 2022, raising expectations for its growth from the nation’s foremost musical institution into one of the top orchestras worldwide. The orchestra now serves as the driving force of classical music in Korea.
The KBSSO attracted the world’s attention in 2018 when Deutsche Grammophon, the world-renowned classical music label, released a live performance album of Mahler’s 9th Symphony. The KBSSO also put the Korean classical music scene on the map when it performed at the centennial of Czechoslovakia’s founding in 2018 and went on to perform on two European stages in 2019, first in celebration of 30 years of Korea’s diplomatic relations with Poland and later in a special performance at the Wiener Musikverein. More recently, the special performance the orchestra gave during the pandemic, broadcast on four online channels simultaneously, was watched by over 23,000 viewers in real time. The Orchestra also launched Digital K-Hall, a digital archive for classical music to provide quality musical content for the public free of charge. KBSSO is now writing a new chapter in its history as a creator of digital content for classical music lovers in Korea.