SEOUL — Pianist Kim Cheol Woong and a young violinist are preparing for a special concert. She does not want her face shown in video because, like Kim, she is a North Korean defector to South Korea.
Kim is headlining a “Concert for Peace” in Seoul on July 26 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War but also left the country divided. Kim hopes his music can help one day bring the two Koreas back together again.
“I want to provide an insight which can help South Koreans to understand North Koreans through my music," he said. "So South Koreans can understand better when they hold talks with North Koreans. I want to create a foundation where people can understand each other by understanding the culture through my music.”
Kim is not a typical North Korean refugee. He was once part of the privileged in Pyongyang and, after living in Seoul for a decade, he has become a famous entertainer.
After getting in trouble for playing Western music, he fled to China and then South Korea seeking artistic freedom. Kim was beaten by police in China and said refugees still face this kind of treatment.
"I think something must be done to improve the situation and we must talk to the Chinese government to improve the situation," he said.
Joanna Hosaniak is with the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, which helps refugees escape. She met Kim at a conference on North Korean rights abuses.
"And since then he became our goodwill ambassador of our organization. And, from time to time, we ask him to play during our charity concerts, which he gladly does.” she explained.
Kim dreams of one day being able to visit North Korea and perform there once again.