Celebrating peace in a land of war and division

DMZ Peace Train Music Festival kicks off in front of old WPK headquarters in Cheorwon County

The ruins of the old headquarters of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) are located in Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province. This Russian-style building went up in 1946, a year after Korea’s liberation, when the area was under North Korean control. The building is pockmarked by bullet holes and bomb blasts, a legacy of the Korean War. During Communist rule before the war, the building was where anti-communist activists were taken, often to be tortured and killed. This was also where Seo Taiji and Boys shot the music video for their 1994 song “Dreaming of Balhae,” a call for Korea’s peaceful reunification.

On the evening of June 7, martial music rang out in front of the old WPK headquarters. While it’s a normal occurrence for military songs to be heard here, given all the soldiers stationed along the border, there was something different about the songs sung that day. In place of a military band, there was a 10-person band playing jazz music; instead of soldiers, it was free-styling indie musicians like Baek Hyun-jhin, Kim Sa-wol, Kim Hae-won, and Kim Ji-won. Dancers from the Ambiguous Dance Company put on a playful show in time to the martial music. This was all part of the “Friendship Concert,” a special show marking the beginning of the DMZ Peace Train Music Festival, which is being held for three days in and around Cheorwon County.

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