Summit’s 1st anniversary is serious, if one-sided

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Summit’s 1st anniversary is serious, if one-sided


American cellist Lynn Harrell plays Bach at the military demarcation line that separates the two Koreas in a South Korean ceremony Saturday marking the first anniversary of the summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration on April 27, 2018. [NEWS1]

Bach’s classical harmonies prevailed over palpable tension on the border between the Koreas at Panmunjom as the South commemorated the first anniversary of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s first inter-Korean summit - without any participation by North Korea.

Saturday’s modest ceremony featured a series of concerts with artists from the United States, Japan, China and South Korea performing under the theme of “a long but necessary path” at a number of venues in the truce village of Panmunjom, where Moon held his first talks with Kim last April.

A total of 410 people attended the televised event, including ordinary citizens, artists, politicians and government figures like Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung. Representatives of the United Nations Command, like Gen. Robert Abrams, also took part in the ceremony, as did the ambassadors of China, Japan and Russia.

Seoul had tried to arrange a joint concert with performers from North Korea, but Pyongyang did not respond. The South went ahead with the event on its side of Panmunjom and informed the North last week through the joint liaison office at Kaesong.

The North’s cold shoulder testifies to the chill in inter-Korean relations as denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington remain stalled.

While not attending the event himself, Moon recorded a video message in which he acknowledged difficulties in negotiations, but vowed to follow through on the agreement signed with Kim a year ago.

The main organizer of Saturday’s ceremony, presidential protocol aide Tak Hyun-min, stressed that even without the North, the event was meaningful in that artists from afar have come to Korea to hope for peace.

Under Tak’s direction, the event’s concerts were arranged with symbolic messages in mind and were performed at spots around Panmunjom where Moon and Kim held discussions.

One of the highlights was a cello performance by the world-renowned cellist Lynn Harrell, who played Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1” in front of the military demarcation line (MDL), where the two leaders shook hands in their first encounter.

On the footbridge on which they chatted privately while taking a stroll, South Korean violinist Lim Ji-young played Bach’s “Chaconne,” while vocalist BoA sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” in front of Peace House, where the two leaders signed the Panmunjom Agreement.

Japanese flutist Ayako Takagi played an etude written by the renowned Korean composer Yun Isang, while Chinese cellist Jian Wang played Bach’s “Air on the G String.”

Also featured was a video message from Pope Francis, who conveyed his congratulations and a hope that confrontation would be overcome through harmony.

The host of Saturday’s ceremony, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, vowed that the obstacles to peace on the peninsula would be overcome, since the two Koreas “have a strong will to implement the agreement.”

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