Tuesday, January 02, 2007

'Rock for Peace,' Out
Peace of Mind, In

Talk about your changes of heart. One of the earlier posts I wrote at this blog was about an international rock concert to be held in Pyongyang of all places. The concert, to be called "Rock for Peace," was going to be held in early May, and "hundreds" of Western bands were applying for the show, the organizer told me, including Mike Doughty and Death Cab for Cutie. Seriously.

Rock for Peace was being organized by one Mr. Jean-Baptiste Kim, a former South Korean who fled to Europe some 30 years ago who was now firmly a supporter of North Korea. Mr. Kim and his concert plans had gotten some significant press all over the world, including in the Guardian, Yonhap and numerous news wires and blogs.

Now, however, it looks like the show is history. Or at least Mr. Kim's role in organizing it is. After 10 years of "serving" the DPRK, Mr. Kim has had a Paul/Saul-like seeing of the light:
I have been providing theories of excusing myself and DPRK regime which ignoring the facts of ordinary lives in DPRK. My behaviours of last 10 years are against my own belief but I continued walk on this road because I needed an exit for my anger and hate toward South Korea. I required ordinary North Korea people to be sacrifices of national security in my theory but I did not participate their miserable lives myself. I must confess myself that I am such coward and one of the most hypocritical figures in modern Korean history. My fictitious behaviours are also against my religious conscience as I am a Roman Catholic and I ask lord a forgiveness.

As part of Mr. Kim's change in outlook, he is canceling the Rock for Peace concert:
I also need to announce that ROCK FOR PEACE will be suspended along with myself. It was my passion to bring rock festival into North Korea but I decided not to continue on this project because I know full details of the event, the reasons, the purposes, the backgrounds, everything. The reason why I abandon the event is because the event was politically designed which gives more pains to ordinary people but more benefits to the regime.

I must admit that I am not surprised. I had made some calls when this story broke (my wise editor was quite dubious about the whole project from the get-go, and insisted I get more verification about it), and was told this idea of this concert was "bad intelligence." A call to the North Korean embassy in Sweden (where this whole project was being coordinated) only found some confused, skeptical officials (not a cheery sounding bunch at all, but surprisingly accessible).

And talk about your New Year's Resolutions:
In 2007 this new year, I became 40 and I need to admit that it is now the time to forget all things behind of the curtain. I shall erase all my bad memories about South Korea and must face the new future of my children and children of Korea. I should not be the victim of anger, should not be the sacrifice of hate as long as it makes North Korean ordinary people becoming another sacrifices of my own. I today officially declare that I stop all supports for DPRK regime and will do the same supports for North Korean ordinary people instead.

Here's to hoping more people in 2007 can put the past behind them and move on, like Mr. Kim has.

Anyhow, be sure to check out the Voice of Korea website for the latest. And if you are in London and need a mobile phone, stop by Mr. Kim's store.

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