Intervention of Mr. David Gonzalez Tejero, Director, Nuestra Señora del Recuerdo Children Choir, Spain, in the IAACP Session of the Think Tank 2022 Forum on 3 February, 2022.
Hello from Madrid. My name is David and today I'm here with my students. I still remember my first trip to Korea 15 years ago. It was summertime. I remember getting off the plane at Incheon Airport in Seoul. Incheon Airport is considered the largest construction project ever in Korean history. It is the first impression for foreigners who arrive to the country.
I walked through the huge corridors of this impressive construction to take my luggage and before arriving to the baggage claim, I saw a huge mural on the wall of four Korean musicians dancing and playing their traditional musical instruments. The second impression of Korea was its music, its culture. It was not a coincidence. In Korea, music is considered a very powerful instrument to connect people. When we hear music, when we sing, when we dance, there is a part of us that connects with ourselves and when we share it, we connect with other people’s feelings. They know this very well in Korea.
If you switch on the television in Korea, you will find a TV channel with just Korean music the whole day. We can see what happens today with Korean KPOP music, in Korea and all around the world. When young people sing, dance the same choreographies and dress in a similar way to other people in the country and in different countries, they connect with each other, and I feel part of the same idea or spirit.
Actually, KPOP is a modern and international projection of Korean unity. What is really incredible in Korea is the ability to give the same level of importance to traditional, western and modern music. During many centuries, Korean people have created and preserved the ideal of their country with dance and music. Farmers used to play percussion instruments like gongs and drums to be heard in the open countryside. They used to play and dance complex rhythms. This music is still taught in primary and high schools in Korea.
Here in Spain, students learn to play the recorder flute at school. In Korea, students learn to play the “danso”, a kind of Korean recorder flute. They used to be made of bamboo. Nowadays most of them are made of plastic. If you go to Seoul, I suggest you visit the centre of arts, a huge area where you will find the Opera House, a huge auditorium where the national orchestra plays, and also the National Gugak Centre, an institution inspired by the spirit of the Silla Kingdom, that preserves and promotes Korean musical culture heritage.
After many centuries, there are some songs in Korean history that express the spirit of their nation. Without that, the most famous song in Korea that expressed this idea is Arirang. There are many versions of this song that dated from the last 600 years. When Korean people sing Arirang, they forget their political differences. Arirang is considered an unofficial anthem of Korea. What is more, it has been used in several Olympic Games, in 2000 In Sydney, 2004 in Athens, and 2018 in PyeongChang. So, Arirang was used as the anthem of the unified Team of North Korea and South Korea, that God created for these games.
Today, we will not sing Arirang. You can find many examples of this famous song and versions on Internet. Today, we will not even sing or dance to any K-pop music. Instead, we're going to sing another very famous song that the Korean Community sings all around the world. The Korean community in Madrid sings this song when they meet. There is a song called “Urie so won” that talks about the desire of the Korean people of being one country and not a divided country. Now, here in Madrid, the Children's choir of the school “Nuestra Señora del Recuerdo” will sing this song accompanied on the piano by Paul Garrido. First, they will sing a version in English and secondly the original version in Korean language.