2020 Peace & Life Zone Festival opens July 25 with ardent wishes for peace on the DMZ and the Korean Peninsula

여홍일 기자l승인2020.08.19l수정2020.08.19 10:50






▲ PLZ페스티벌 임미정 예술감독

Peace & Life Zone Festival has opened July 25 at Gunbong Temple, Goseong County. Under the theme 'Sound Within Sound', the festival holds a variety of events all over Gangwon Province until December 6. 

The opening ceremony at the temple invited renowned musicians: Kim Dae-sung who composed Prayer for Peace, Park Jong-sung who played original song Run Again with the harmonica, Kim Seo-hyeon, a child who sang Dream of Fireflies, soprano Oh Eun-gyeong and Kim Sae-il who sang Missing You Mount Kumgang, and many more who played classical music with the piano, violin, viola and cello. 

Some of the notable figures attended on the day were: Kim Sung-ho (vice administration governor of Gangwon Province), Kang Geum-sil (chairman of Gangwon Art & Culture Foundation), Ham Myeong-jun (governor of Goseong County), Park Hyo-dong (vice chairman of Gangwon Provincial Council), Peteris Vaivars (Ambassador of Latvia), Chaim Choshen (Ambassador of Israel) and Mihai Ciompec (Ambassador of Romania). 

Im Mi-jung, the art director of the festival, named the festival this year "Sound Within Sound" and says it means that we lay down what we are holding but open our heart instead to the sound within sound to find something valuable.

In fact, the opening ceremony this year was more meaningful than previous years as heavy rain was falling down from the beginning to the end of the ceremony. Yet no performers or audience moved out of the stage or the seats but kept their position firmly till the end.

PowerKorea met Im and learned about the festival.

Q. What is the PLZ Festival about?
A. Instead of Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), I brought up Peace & Life Zone (PLZ). I think that will explains. It goes back to the Music 4 One Foundation in 2005 which led to Green Concert and Peace Concert, and to PLZ Initiative in 2018 and to the PLZ Festival in 2019. So the festival is 2 years old.

Q. What makes this year's festival different?
A. Inje and Yanggu Counties joined last year but this year added Goseong, Hwacheon and Cheorwon. Each country has each different event in relation with the PLZ and a variety of outdoor performances are to be made during September to October as the wind will freshly breeze through. The festival ends with an international conference in December.

Q. What characterizes the festival this year?
A. It goes with online concerts due to the virus situation except the outdoor performances that come with temperature check, wearing mask and sanitizing hands. 

Q. What kind of events have you organized?
A. Variety. A concert at the northern-most village of South Korea Myeongpa-ri will be meaningful. Inje County collaborates the event with the flower festival in October, Yanggu County runs educational programs at the Park Sugeun Museum, Hwancheon County holds two performances at its culture hall and Cheorwon County holds memorial concerts for war veterans. 

Q. Are there any sub-themes apart from "Sound Within Sound"?
A. It differs from county to county: Road to Mount Kumgang in Goseong, Flower, Music and Silence of Love in Inje, Poems and Pictures at DMZ in Yanggu, and Forever Song for You in Hwacheon.

Q. Tell us about the musicians.
A. I'm trying to include as many different musicians as possible to secure diversity and variety. It doesn't matter what age they are and which instrument they play, I just send the object of this festival and concerts and encourage them to join. It is good to have Irina Bokova, former director general of the UNESCO, as the honorary president of the organizing committee of the festival from this year. Sadly, she could not make this year due to the virus situation. 

Q. Have there been any musical exchanges between the two Koreas?
A. If I answer personally, I visited the North and played with musicians there. I also played with them when they visited the US for a concert. As the art director of the festival, I ardently wish that they join the festival and hold concerts in the North also. 

Q. Would you tell us about your experience in the North a little more?
A. It was when I stayed in New York that I visited Pyongyang. I played a Tchaikovsky concerto and the Korea Is One composed by North Korean composer Yoon Chung-nam with the National Orchestra of the North. We also played Arirang and Don Dolrari.

Q. How many points would you like to give to musicians in the North?
A. Their level is outstanding. Korean's famous for dexiterity and I felt we indeed are the same Koreans. The system is also well organized like Russia or Eastern European countries. One thing I see lacking though is diversity. Songs they sing are mainly about nationalism. It is hopeful that the video images of their performance can be found on Youtube nowadays. 

Q. What is your direction when mapping out the contents of the festival?
A. As the art director and a musician myself, I can say music embraces almost all directions from life and peace to nature, love, humanism, you name it. However, it is good to match certain genres of music with certain area. The Yanggu War Memorial Museum and the National DMZ Wild Plants Garden were where fierce battles taken place 70 years ago but having a concert themed on peace with appropriate musical contents today can be meaningful. 

Q. We learned that you are also making documentary films?
A. We did make a music video with Arirang last year with the Yanggu War Memorial Museum and Yongeup (wetland) in Inje as background. It is beautiful putting the musical instruments in the wild. This year, Arte TV and Jo Won-gook PD are making documentary films about the PLZ.

Q. This year marks 70 years of the Korean War. What do you think is the role of artists?
A. I think the role of artists in this festival is to make contribution with music to turn the DMZ to PLZ. 

Q. Do you think music has power to lead us to peace?
A. When I was young, I worried too much wether I might make mistake in my play. Now I realize that the focus on my play delivers powerful energy to the audience and it makes small mistake nothing. We are human and we all make mistakes. So we, as musicians, do what we can do best at the festival. 

Q. Lastly, what is your wish as the art director of the festival?
A. I visited a memorial museum in Hiroshima and was shocked by the victims of the atomic bomb. And I felt humans were cruel to each other. But then I thought we can turn this cruelty to peace through invisible power between us. I hope the music we play at the festival will connect this invisible power of peace to us all. 

여홍일 기자  yeo1998@unitel.co.kr
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