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North, South Korean musicians hold rare joint performance

May 13, 2019

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Shanghai: South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon and his North Korean soprano partner, Kim Song Mi, perform at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre on Sunday.—AP
Shanghai: South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon and his North Korean soprano partner, Kim Song Mi, perform at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre on Sunday.—AP

SHANGHAI: South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon took the stage, nodded once to his North Korean soprano partner, and placed his instrument on his shoulder. With a flick of the conductor’s wrist, she began to sing, and he began to bow the beginning of a rare joint performance on Sunday that they hope will bring the Koreas closer amid deadlocked nuclear diplomacy.

“Until today, I was thinking, will this really happen? Will it suddenly be cancelled?” Won said. “Today was the day my dream finally came true.” Won, donning a white shirt, and Kim Song Mi, sporting a sparkling red dress, performed Antonin Dvorak’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me” together with a Chinese orchestra at the Shanghai Oriental Art Centre. After the last notes, they held hands and bowed to thunderous applause from the mostly Chinese audience.

Kim later reappeared in a traditional multi-coloured Korean dress to sing “Arirang,” a Korean traditional folk tune beloved in both countries.

The concert came three days after South Korea said North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea, the second such weapons test by Pyongyang in less than a week.

For both Won and Kim, it was their first concert with a musician from the other side of the Korean border, the world’s most heavily fortified. They met several times last year in Beijing and agreed to perform together to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2019