The K-pop star Lee Seung-chul performed on islands at the centre of a territorial dispute between Japan and both Koreas to launch South Korea's "One Nation" campaign. The project aims to unite the two Korean neighbours, countries that notoriously don't enjoy the best of relations.
Lee performed with the With-U choir, an 55-strong ensemble comprised entirely of North Korean defectors, with the show taking place on a group of small islands widely known in the western world as Liancourt Rocks. North and South Korea both claim sovereignty of the islands that they call Dokdo, as do the Japanese, who know the islets as Takeshima. Organisers said in a statement that “performing at Dokdo would be the ultimate symbolic gesture of unification".
The show reportedly included "The Day", a song about national identity, written specifically by Lee for the "One Nation" campaign and a traditional Korean folk song called "Arirang", while the performance date itself carries a significant patriotic agenda – Lee and his choir performed on the eve of Liberation Day, the yearly event that marks the Koreas' independence from Japan on 15 August 1945.
Lee posted pictures on Twitter of himself on the islands surrounded by Korean naval officers.
His performance is a small step towards improving ties between the two countries, who have endured frosty relations since the 1950s, a relationship mired in war and territorial tension.
Lee Seung-chul made his name in the 1980s as the lead singer of the band Boohwal, before forging a solo career towards the end of the 90s. To date, he's released 11 studio albums and now holds a position as a judge on the Korean reality TV show Superstar K.
Check him out below.
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