Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Isang Yun Concert to Be Held at Mt. Kumgang


By Seo Dong-shin
From the Korea Times - 04-10-2006 17:16

A ceremony marking the first anniversary of the establishment of the Seoul-based Isang Yun Peace Foundation will be held at Mt. Kumgang in North Korea on April 29, foundation officials said on Monday.
Coinciding with the ceremony is a concert featuring Yun’s music, and a joint dinner of South and North Korean government officials, the officials said.
Minister of Unification Lee Jong-seok will likely attend along with Park Jae-kyu, director of the foundation and former unification minister, a ministry spokesman told The Korea Times.
The ceremony will be at the Shingye-sa Temple on Mt. Kumgang while the concert will be at the Mt. Kumgang Cultural Center, according to the officials.
A performance by the South’s Tongyong International Music Festival (TIMF) Ensemble and members of the National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts will be followed by a performance from Pyongyang’s Isang Yun Orchestra.
Lee Soo-ja, Yun’s widow who has been living near Pyongyang in recent years, will be present at the ceremony to talk about her feelings regarding the recent campaign to restore her deceased husband’s honor in the South.
Yun (1917-1995), who was born in Tongyong, South Kyongsang Province in the South, was a respected Korean composer residing in Germany in the 1960s, drawing attention from music circles there for his music mingling Korean touch with Western style.
But after his visit to North Korea in 1963, Yun was kidnapped from West Berlin and brought to Seoul under the authoritarian government of former President Park Chung-hee in June 1967, where he was tortured to make a false statement that he was working as a spy for the Pyongyang regime via the North Korean Embassy in East Berlin.
In what was then known as 'Tongbaengnim' ('East Berlin' pronounced in the old Korean way) case, Yun received a life sentence. But he managed to return to Germany in March 1969 after two years of imprisonment, reportedly thanks to efforts to save him by international music circles and pressure from the then West German government.
Yun became a naturalized German citizen in 1971. He could never return to the South in his lifetime but visited Pyongyang in the late 1970s at the invitation of then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. He died in Germany in 1995.
In Pyongyang, an institute committed to Yun’s music was established in 1984 and has now its own orchestra of some 60 performers.
South Korea started to actively look into the possible wrongdoings committed by its previous authoritarian regimes from the 1960s to 1980s, after the inauguration of the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
Earlier this year, a panel investigating the nation’s intelligence agency’s past activities said the Tongbaengnim case was fabricated to silence dissidents at that time. Investigators recommended the government apologize to the victims and seek ways to redeem their honor.
"I can only visit the hometown when my husband’s honor is restored," Yun’s wife, Lee, was quoted as saying by the South’s Hankyoreh Shinmun which interviewed her in Pyongyang last month.
In January, the Isang Yun Peace Foundation announced plans to invite Lee, 79, to the South.

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