[THIS WEEK IN HISTORY]Death of an exiled composer, the birth of a gambling mecca

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[THIS WEEK IN HISTORY]Death of an exiled composer, the birth of a gambling mecca

Nov. 4, 1995

Koreans hate the idea of dying in a place away from home, but that was the misfortune fate dealt to Yoon Yi-sang. The exiled musician, dying of pneumonia in a Berlin hospital, took a deep bow in the direction of Korea in the final moments of his life. He was 78.

Born in Tongyeong on the southern end of the peninsula, Mr. Yoon studied Western contemporary music in Osaka and then in West Berlin. Mr. Yoon's music, which laid oriental concepts over a Western style, cemented his international reputation, and he even performed a concert in North Korea. What bothered the leaders of Mr. Yoon's home country, the military regime of Park Chung Hee, was Mr. Yoon's political acts and beliefs, especially regarding reunification. Mr. Yoon was high on a blacklist of North-friendly figures. His artistic achievements did not matter to the military regime, and he was eventually abducted from Berlin in 1967 and brought back to Korea to serve a life sentence in prison. He was released in 1969 and banished to Germany, and was not allowed to travel to Korea. The experiences influenced his masterpiece song -- "Gagopa" (Eager to Go Back). But even with the political winds changing, he could not make his dream come true. To commemorate Yoon and his music, the Tongyeong International Music Festival takes place every year in his hometown.



Nov. 5, 1963

Unwashed Seoulites expecting to do their Sunday ritual -- going to the public bathhouse -- faced a problem. Seoul's public bathhouses closed to protest a government policy that banned the facilities from hiking prices. Whether or not it was a clean fight, the Association of Public Bathhouses prevailed. Today it costs about 4,000 won ($3) to use a public bathhouse.



Nov. 10, 1995

The government confirmed its plans to build the only casino open to locals, Gangwon Land. The decision was an opportunity to help an ailing provincial economy. The city chosen, Jeongseon in Gangwon province, had long been a coal town but had suffered badly when many of the mines closed. Gangwon Land, a casino and hotel, opened in 2000 and now averages 2,500 visitors a day. Despite concerns that the casino would only produce gambling addicts, business there is good and the hotel is adding another building.

by Chun Su-jin

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