Two top musicians from Japan and South Korea are poised to help bring people from the two countries a step closer together when they play a concert later this month in tribute to a South Korean student and a Japanese photographer killed while trying to save a man who fell onto the tracks at a Tokyo railway station.
Yoichiro Omachi, key conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and Tokyo-based South Korean violinist Jung Chanwoo, say people should not forget the brave actions of Lee Su Hyon, 26, and Yokohama photographer Shiro Sekine, 47, or the overwhelming reaction in both countries following their tragic deaths in January.
The concert will be held April 15 at Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.
will not only be a tribute to Lee and Sekine, but also a means of encouraging better relations between the countries, which have shared a turbulent and often bitter past.
“As a violinist living in Japan and South Korea, I would like to help develop this shared feeling into a better, progressive relationship between the two countries,” Jung said in a recent interview. “The forthcoming concert will be a starting point.”
On Jan. 26, Lee and Sekine were hit by a train at JR Shin-Okubo Station in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward after they jumped onto the tracks to try and save a drunk man who had fallen off the platform.
All three were killed.
Lee was a student at a Japanese language school in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward. He arrived in Japan in 1999, hoping to study at a Japanese graduate school to realize his dream of bridging the divide between the two countries through trade and business.
Omachi, 69, said he has a special connection with South Korea after he became the first Japanese conductor to perform in the country after World War II, when he conducted the KBS Symphony Orchestra in 1965.
“When KBS director Im Won Sik asked me if I was interested in conducting his orchestra, he said I might be shot by the audience because anti-Japanese sentiment was still strong at that time,” he told Kyodo News.
“But my South Korean classmate at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music encouraged me to go,” he said. “When I performed at the concert, I was surprised that orchestra members and the audience were extremely cheerful and friendly.”
Omachi, now an honorary professor at his alma mater, said he has asked the classmate, Chong Yong Ja, currently living in Seoul, to come to the concert. “I want to perform with special thanks to Ms. Chong as well as for the noble act by Mr. Lee.”
Jung, 50, was born in Japan to South Korean parents and raised in Japan until he was 19. He returned to Tokyo last year after spending eight years in France and more than 15 years in South Korea.
“I’m a so-called Korean resident of Japan. I have often undergone tough times while living in Japan and South Korea. When I first visited Seoul, I was not able to speak Korean well,” he said.
“The two countries still remain at odds in some ways due largely to Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. I want to continue my work in Japan to help people in both countries better understand each other and bring them closer.”
Dubbed the Japan-Korea Friendship Charity Concert, the event will include Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” overture, Smetana’s “Moldau” from Ma Vlast, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 “Fate,” performed by the NHK Symphony Danyu Orchestra. Jung will play the violin solo for Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen.”
Proceeds from the concert will be donated to activities promoting friendship between the two countries.
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