South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon nodded to North Korean soprano Kim Song Mi and placed his instrument on his shoulder. So began a rare joint performance that many people hope will bring the two Koreas closer—despite deadlocked nuclear discussions.
Won and Kim performed with a Chinese orchestra at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on Sunday. After the last notes, they held hands and bowed to thunderous applause from the mostly Chinese audience.
“Today was the day my dream finally came true,” Won says.
The concert came three days after South Korea accused North Korea of firing two missiles toward the sea, the second such weapons test by Pyongyang (NK) in less than a week.
It was Won and Kim’s first concert with a musician from the other side of the Korean border. They met several times last year in Beijing and agreed to perform together to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.
It’s extremely rare for musicians from both Koreas to perform together. Contact between the two sides is so restricted that North and South Koreans can’t exchange phone calls, letters, or emails without special government approval.
Last year saw several cross-border exchanges after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began talks over the future of his nuclear weapons. A group of North Korean dancers and singers performed in South Korea during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. South Korean pop stars later flew to Pyongyang and sang for Kim Jong Un and his wife. Both events were the first of their kind in over a decade.
But such exchanges are becoming rare again as North Korea resumes weapons tests.
The Bible recognizes the soothing effect of music. (1 Samuel 16:14-23) South Korean analyst Cho Han Bum says Won and Kim’s performance might improve ties between the Koreas. Still, Sunday’s concert is unlikely to cause a global political breakthrough.
Won and Kim hope to organize concerts around the world—in Pyongyang, Seoul, or perhaps even Washington. He says, “I can’t help but think maybe, just maybe, it’ll bring more opportunities like this in the future.”
(South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon and North Korean soprano Kim Song Mi perform at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai on Sunday, May 12, 2019. AP Photo/Dake Kang)