Elderly choir to sing at UN headquarters

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Elderly choir to sing at UN headquarters

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Kwon Dae-wook, CEO of Accor-Ambassador Korea and head of the Grey Youth Choir, has been pushing for the ensemble to perform at the UN headquarters in New York for three years. By Kim Kyung-bin

A renowned choir made up of Korean senior citizens will take to the stage in front of numerous diplomats from around the world.

Sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, the Grey Youth Choir will hold a concert at the UN headquarters in New York to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15.

The 44-member ensemble will perform 12 songs.

Kwon Dae-wook, CEO of Accor-Ambassador Korea and head of the choir, has spent three years making this dream come true, raising 300 million won ($269,093) in funding. Of the money raised, 70 million won came from crowdfunding.

Even though the concert is to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the 64-year-old said his motivation for organizing the choir’s participation is the current split between South and North Korea.

“Older generations are eager for unification, but they don’t have the power to make it happen,” he said. “[On the other hand,] younger generations have the power but are less interested in unification.”

He said the concert will make a unified Korea seem more significant to younger people.

While preparing for the show, Kwon and the choir received assistance from younger people working in the design, marketing and travel industries.

The choir is composed of people in their 60s and 70s. It was originally established in 2011 for the KBS TV show “Qualifications of Men.” The ensemble remained intact after the program.

At 35 years old, Kwon became the youngest president of a construction company. But it went bankrupt during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when Korea received monetary aid from the IMF.

After living in Gangwon for three years, Kwon’s career resumed when he was assigned his current position.

But he still felt like something was missing from his life - until he applied to become a member of the choir and passed his audition.

Kwon said he is already preparing for his next project, which is to establish more senior citizen choirs in local areas.

BY KIM GYEONG-JIN [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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