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Ukraine girls’ choir invited to World Choir Games in Korea

Ukraine girls’ choir invited to World Choir Games in Korea

Posted July. 13, 2023 07:53,   

Updated July. 13, 2023 07:53


The 2023 World Choir Games Gangneung sharing the message of peace, unity, and hope will come to an end on Thursday. The event, attended by 8,000 participants of 320 teams from 34 countries, is known as the ‘Olympics of Choirs,” bringing together people from different countries, ethnicity, and gender. The Vognyk Girls’ Choir of Ukraine brought attention, participating in the event despite war conditions.

Secretary General Kim Tae-yang of the Joint Commission to Support Ukraine (pastor at the Namyangju Cham-bit Church, photo), who helped bring the 40 choir members to Gangeung and was interviewed by The Dong-A Ilbo via phone on Monday, said that he “promoted the choir’s visit to Korea to raise awareness on the horrors of the war and value of peace.” The Joint Commission to Support Ukraine (headed by former Ambassador to Ukraine Lee Yang-gu) was founded in March 2022, just after the war broke out, and donates necessities and helps with reconstruction efforts.

-How was the Ukraine choir invited?

“At first, we planned to form a joint choir of Ukraine expats in Korea and Korean and Japanese volunteers helping Ukraine because we thought that would help bring awareness to the war and help Ukraine. But Nikolai from the Ukraine community in Korea said there was a good choir in Kyiv and suggested inviting them. It was the Vognyk Girls’ Choir, founded in the 1970s and performs all over the world, particularly in Europe.

It must not have been easy to invite the choir.

“The Organizing Committee of the World Choir Games in Gangneung wanted to invite the choir as well, but they couldn’t find a way how. We reached out to the choir in January after getting the committee’s approval, but the time was quite tight because they had to decide by April whether to enter quickly. There was much we had to do from our side, sending the invitation, plane tickets, and funds, but the choir also had to get permission from their families, as they had to travel outside the country during the war. They traveled 16 hours from Kyiv to Warsaw of Poland, and arrived in Korea on July 1. I was concerned about their safety until hearing news of their arrival in Warsaw.”

-I heard that the choir members continued to practice in the midst of bombings.

“When an air raid warning is issued during practice, they had to escape to the underground shelter and come back when it was over. They had to wait in the shelter for more than three hours, and because the Russians’ bombing happened so frequently, the warning was issued all the time. Those with family members fighting in the war could hardly sleep due to worries. Some of the choir members were traumatized by the opening ceremony fireworks because they reminded them of the bombing.”

-I heard that the Vognyk Girls’ Choir held a performance on July 3 to help those impacted by the wildfire in Gangneung in April this year.

“They performed in front of fallen buildings and debris, the ruins of the unrecognizable buildings damaged by the fire. These are quite common in Ukraine. Around 60 songs the choir prepared for the games all have the common theme of peace. They wished to share the message of always being hopeful no matter how difficult things are.”

Chin-Ku Lee sys1201@donga.com