Tune in for peace on the peninsula ... hopefully

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Sept 9, 2019 - 20:48
  • Updated : Sept 9, 2019 - 20:48

PAJU, Gyeonggi Province -- “Tracks: To Pyeongyang” inscribed on signs at Dorasan Station was both a symbol of hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula and a reminder that it has yet to come.

Just a stone’s throw away from the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, the station currently serves merely as an arrival spot for peace-themed tourism to the de facto border between the two Koreas. But its facilities and location means it could potentially serve as an international train stop linking rail travel in and out of the peninsula.

It was here that the Culture Connects: DMZ Peace Concert, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Korean traditional musicians, took place Monday, commemorating the first anniversary for the Joint Pyongyang Declaration that was adopted by the leaders of the South and North.

As the press pool entered the premises, rehearsal of “Jindo Arirang” was in progress, which would be the highlight of the show alongside “Bonjo Arirang.” The locally iconic folksong “Arirang” -- inscribed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO -- has several variations that originate from different parts of the Korean Peninsula.

At around 5 p.m., rhythmic tunes of Korean traditional gukak begin to fill the station as the traditional talchum mask dance was held by talchum team the Greatest Masque. “Don’t worry! It won’t hurt you!” they cried as performers in a lion costume playfully poked around at a group of middle schoolers in the audience.

Much like the station’s slogan, “This is not the last station of South Korea, but the first station to North,” the concert embodied hopes of peace that had been boosted by the joint declaration between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to end hostilities and boost cooperation across the border. Seoul has been seeking to make the DMZ a stepping-stone toward peace, utilizing tourism programs and cultural projects.